Gutierrez: Vandy RHP Gray an obvious choice for A's

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Gutierrez: Vandy RHP Gray an obvious choice for A's

June 6, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVEA's PAGE A's VIDEOPaul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

Sure, the A's had been linked with Connecticut outfielder George Springer in mock drafts, ranging from Baseball America to ESPN in recent weeks, days and hours. But Oakland's farm system has a relative lack of depth in pitching, what with so many of the A's pitching prospects already with the big club.So when Springer was drafted No. 11 overall by the Houston Astros and Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray was still there for the taking at No. 18, the choice was obvious.Gray, born 10 days after the A's finished their four-game sweep of the Giants in the 1989 World Series, became Oakland's first-round draft pick in the 2011 first-year player draft."We've gotten to know him personally for a number of years and he just has incredible gumption and fortitude," A's scouting director Eric Kubota said in a conference call with reporters. "He's one of those kids who isn't backing out of any situation. He's not afraid of anything.
"He's going to go out and do everything he can on any given day to get you out."Gray is 11-3 with a 2.01 ERA in 16 starts for the Commodores, whose season continues this weekend in a best-of-three Super Regional against Oregon State. Opponents are also hitting .192 against him in 107 23 innings and he has 115 strikeouts and 39 walks."He's a bulldog-type of guy who was a championship quarterback in high school and has played on the USA national team," said New York Mets scout and CSN Bay Area baseball analyst Shooty Babitt. "He's got a complete mix of 'stuff' with a power fastball. He's a competitor with a good arm who goes out and wins."The stigma is that he's a 5-11 righty."Meaning, many see him as being too short andor slight to be effective over the long term. Some observers, though, think he might remind A's fans of Tim Hudson and Huston Street. Others see him as a Roy Oswalt-type of hurler, what with a low-to-mid 90's fastball that can hit the high 90's on the radar gun. Plus, Baseball America named Gray as having the best secondary pitch in college ball.Coming out of high school in 2008, Gray was drafted in the 27th round by the Chicago Cubs. But he decided to attend and play for Vandy and his stock his risen accordingly.Entering this season, Gray was the fifth-ranked pitcher in college by Baseball America after being second-team all-SEC in 2010 in going 10-5 with a 3.48 ER in 19 outings, 16 starts. He led the Commodores with 113 strikeouts, 108 23 innings pitched and 48 walks as a sophomore. He was also a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2009 after going 5-1 with a 4.30 ERA in 22 appearances."Strength-wise, I think I attack hitters really well," said Gray, who acknowledged his primary concern is pitching for Vanderbilt this weekend rather than negotiating a contract. "I come and try to give you my best stuff and I think having that competitive sprit and that competitive mind serves you well on days you don't have your best stuff."Listed at 5-feet-11, 200 pounds, Gray said he was "6-feet" tall. When pressed, he laughed and said, "5-11-and-a-half."The last college pitcher the A's used a first-round pick on was James Simmons out of UC Riverside in 2007. Simmons is currently on double-A Midland's disabled list with right shoulder impingement syndrome.The A's have also made a habit of drafting college players in the first round. Since 1997, Oakland has drafted only one high school player in the first round - pitcher Jeremy Bonderman in 2001. Eric Chavez was a high school star when the A's selected him with their first pick in 1996.Oakland's last three first-round picks are ranked by Baseball America in their top five prospects - Jemile Weeks (No. 5), Grant Green (No. 1) and Michael Choice (No. 3) - while Cliff Pennington (2005 first-rounder) and Landon Powell (2004 first-rounder as compensation for losing Keith Foulke via free agency) are obviously with the big club. Alas, Oakland's farm system is ranked a lowly 28th among the 30 big league clubs.With just four picks in the first five rounds - Oakland surrendered its second-round pick to Tampa Bay as compensation for signing free-agent reliever Grant Balfour this offseason - the A's are tied for the fewest such picks in that span. Their next pick is in the third round, No. 105 overall, and again at No. 136 overall in the fourth. The A's will then select every 30 picks thereafter.

49ers select DE Solomon Thomas with No. 3 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select DE Solomon Thomas with No. 3 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft

SOLOMON THOMAS
Position: Defensive line
College: Stanford
Height: 6-2 ½
Weight: 273 pounds
Selection: First round, No. 3 overall

SANTA CLARA – After some late intrigue surrounding the No. 1 overall pick, the Cleveland Browns went with the player universally considered the top NFL prospect.

Myles Garrett went with the first selection, then the 49ers traded back one spot with the Chicago Bears, who chose North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

The 49ers still got the player they would have chosen with the No. 2 overall pick: Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas with the second pick.

General manager John Lynch engineered a trade that enabled the 49ers to pick up third and fourth-round draft picks this year, as well as the Bears’ third-round pick next year to move back one spot.

With the selection of Thomas, the 49ers have now chosen defensive linemen with their first picks in each of the past three drafts.

The 49ers picked Arik Armstead with the No. 17 pick in 2015. Last year, in Trent Baalke’s final draft as general manager, the 49ers chose DeForest Buckner with the No. 7 pick.

Thomas becomes the highest-drafted defensive player from Stanford in school history. The Minnesota Vikings selected Stanford linebacker Jeff Siemon No. 10 overall in 1972.

The 49ers finished with a 2-14 record last season in Chip Kelly’s only season to land in the No. 2 draft slot. CEO Jed York fired Kelly and Baalke at the conclusion of the season.

Lynch had been shopping the No. 2 overall pick in trade scenarios in recent weeks. The 49ers accomplished their goal, trading back one spot and getting a bounty of picks to help in the rebuilding project.

The 49ers chose Thomas over such players as running back Leonard Fournette, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and safety Jamal Adams.

Thomas, who spent five years in Australia as a youngster, came to Stanford as a top 25 national recruit. In his final college season, Thomas led the Cardinal with 62 tackles, 15 for loss, and eight quarterback sacks. He was an All-American and chosen as the winner of the Morris Trophy, awarded to the Pac-12 defensive lineman of the year.

Thomas appears to be a fit at multiple positions along the line in new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. While he might be best-suited for an interior position, new coach Kyle Shanahan said recently at Stanford’s pro day that he believes Thomas can play the team’s pass-rush position.

The 49ers have struggled to generate much of a pass rush since the departure of Aldon Smith, whom the club released prior to the 2015 season after multiple off-field incidents.

Ahmad Brooks and Buckner tied for the team-lead last season with six sacks. Brooks and Aaron Lynch led the 49ers in 2015 with 6.5 sacks apiece. Brooks and Lynch both recorded six sacks in ’14 to lead the team.

The 49ers have nine draft picks remaining. Their next scheduled pick comes Friday with the second selection of the second round, No. 34 overall.

49ers trade No. 2 pick to Bears for four total NFL Draft picks

49ers trade No. 2 pick to Bears for four total NFL Draft picks

The 49ers on Thursday dealt the No. 2 overall pick in the draft to acquire more selections to assist in the organization’s massive rebuilding project.

After advertising for weeks that the 49ers were “open for business,” first-year general manager John Lynch executed a trade on Thursday night with the Chicago Bears.

The Bears moved up to No. 2, while the 49ers took Chicago’s No. 3 overall pick. The 49ers received the Bears’ picks this year in the third round (No. 67) and fourth round (No. 111), as well as the Bears’ third-round pick next year.

Cleveland kicked off the NFL draft with the selection of Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. The Bears selected quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick.

The 49ers had engaged in preliminary trade discussions with six teams, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area. Three teams were inside the top 10 and three teams were outside the top 10.

This draft appeared to set up for the 49ers to trade back because of their needs at so many positions. The 49ers finished 2-14 last season, leading to the firings of general manager John Lynch and coach Chip Kelly.

The 49ers entered the opening day of the draft on Thursday with a scheduled 10 draft picks, including the No. 2 pick in each of the first four rounds.

49ERS 2017 DRAFT PICKS
1. First round, No. 2: DL Solomon Thomas, Stanford
2. Second round: No. 34 overall
3. Third round: No. 66 overall
4. Third round: No. 67 overall (from Chicago for No. 2 pick)
5. Fourth round: No. 109 overall
6. Fourth round: No. 111 overall (from Chicago for No. 2 pick)
7. Fourth round: No. 143 overall (compensatory)
8. Fifth round: No. 146 overall
9. Fifth round: No. 161 (from Washington in 2015 trade for TE Derek Carrier)
10. Sixth round: No. 198 overall (from Baltimore in trade with C Jeremy Zuttah for No. 186)
11. Sixth round: No. 202 overall (pick acquired from Denver in 2015 trade for TE Vernon Davis)
12. Seventh round: No. 219 overall (pick acquired from Cleveland in 2015 trade for Andy Lee)