Joe Gray Jr. possesses among the finest uncooked expertise within the Milwaukee Brewers system. A second-round decide within the 2018 draft out of Hattiesburg (Mississippi) Excessive Faculty, the 21-year-old outfielder is coming off a season the place he slashed .252/.355/.499 between Low-A Carolina and Excessive-A Wisconsin. Augmenting these numbers have been 23 stolen bases, 22 doubles, 9 triples, and 20 dwelling runs in 479 plate appearances. Known as “a high-risk/reward prospect” by Eric Longenhagen earlier this summer time, Grey Jr. capped off his 2021 marketing campaign by competing within the Arizona Fall League with the Salt River Rafters.
At the moment Milwaukee’s No. 12 prospect, per The Board, he mentioned his growth throughout the penultimate week of AFL motion.
David Laurila: To begin, who’re you as a hitter?
Joe Grey Jr.: “I’d say I’m nonetheless figuring it out. I’m nonetheless younger and studying to let my physique work the way it works and never be restricted. That’s what I’m making an attempt to do proper now. However I do know what I can do. I’m a man who can drive the ball after I get a pitch out over the plate. I’ve simply received to play to my strengths. As I become old and extra skilled, by means of repetitions and at bats, I do know it is going to come.
“Once more, I can’t essentially put an excessive amount of into ‘who I’m.’ I’m not going to place stress on myself, making an attempt to ensure I’m down with it tomorrow and even subsequent week. That is my first full season, so I’m nonetheless making an attempt to determine myself out.”
Laurila: Are you able to say slightly bit extra about studying your physique, and never proscribing your self? Your degree of athleticism is clearly excessive.
Grey Jr.: “It’s not reducing my athleticism out of my swing as a result of I’m making an attempt to create fast fixes to be aggressive. You already know what I’m saying? In highschool… like, I didn’t get the possibility to go to school, however these guys are on the market making an attempt to compete and win each single day. It’s probably not about growth; you’re making an attempt to do no matter you possibly can to go 4-for-4, to get on base.
“Right here, we’re on this for the long term. For me, with regards to my physique — figuring my physique out — it’s about permitting myself to work freely whereas doing issues with my swing that gained’t prohibit me. I must let my athleticism play.”
Laurila: Mainly, you’re looking for the best stability between being an athlete on the plate, and making the required changes to succeed in opposition to higher-quality pitching.
Grey Jr.: “Precisely.”
Laurila: Have you ever labored with instruments like Okay-Vest and Blast Movement?
Grey Jr.: “I’ve achieved stuff with Blast Movement. Particularly with the Brewers. After we do that’s principally within the offseason. That’s whenever you work on issues, however typically the metrics don’t essentially provide help to. On the finish of the day, numbers can let you know some stuff — or anyone can let you know, ‘swing this manner’ — but when the hitter doesn’t imagine in what he’s doing, then you definitely actually don’t have a plan in any respect. You may get within the field and go although quite a few issues, quite a few stances, making an attempt to determine one of the simplest ways to do that, one of the simplest ways to do this, and typically unconventional is the very best typical for you. Different occasions it’s a cookie-cutter factor and also you’re like, ‘I guess that is it.’ So it simply will depend on the participant, what he feels and what he believes in.”
Laurila: Is there something distinctive about your swing or setup?
Grey Jr.: “I might say it’s extra of… like proper now, in the direction of the again finish of the Fall League, I’ve form of gotten again to the place I used to be earlier within the 12 months. One factor for positive is that my load is slightly bit greater than some folks. That’s okay. In actuality, it comes right down to a rubber-band impact whenever you get to the launch place. So it’s totally different, however with regards to the meat of the operation — with regards to that load — it’s probably not that totally different.”
Laurila: Do you will have a leg-kick?
Grey Jr.: “Yeah, it’s a leg-kick, however my foot and my arms go on the identical time. When my foot comes off the bottom, that’s when the whole lot begins. They work in sync.”
Laurila: Has anybody tried to coach that out of you?
Grey Jr.: “I’ve tried the entire, ‘not transferring my arms,’ nevertheless it simply doesn’t… I imply, I get within the field and it’s, ‘Nah, this isn’t me.’ I want one thing transferring. The query is — or the objective is — to determine a technique to ensure that I get to a degree the place that transfer is as environment friendly as doable.”
Laurila: Are you able to elaborate in your arms and foot working in sync?
Grey Jr.: “Foot goes up and arms return. They work in unison. The foot will dangle whereas my arms are form of locked, and when the foot goes down, that’s when the separation goes.”
Laurila: With arms in thoughts, some hitters like to start out them as near the set off place as doable.
Grey Jr.: “The additional away you get out of your physique, the more durable it’s… some folks can do it, and a few folks can’t. However like I mentioned, variations are catered to the athlete himself. If you are able to do one thing and it will get you into the best place, I really feel that it is best to have the ability to do something.”
Laurila: Slight change of path: To the extent that you just’re nonetheless studying to hit, do you envision your self as an influence hitter?
Grey Jr.: “I wouldn’t say it’s ‘studying to hit’ a lot as studying to belief myself. I imply, a hitter is a hitter. In case you can’t hit, it ain’t gonna present, not even when it is available in flashes. Folks have potential; it’s whether or not or not they determine a technique to belief themselves. Baseball is psychological, and plenty of it’s confidence. In case you don’t have faith in what you’re doing, it’s going to point out. Some guys aren’t nearly as good [natural] hitters as others, however they imagine in what they do, so it really works out higher than it does for anyone who hasn’t fully purchased into himself.”
Laurila: What concerning the energy profile, although? You do have good pop.
Grey Jr.: “I’ve received it, however I can’t strive. Like, I’m not anyone who can go as much as the plate and say, ‘OK, I’m going to attempt to hit the ball out.’ Once I do that’s after I begin to over-swing. And that’s one thing I can management. At any time when my energy arises and I’m driving balls, it’s as a result of I’m principally making an attempt to do as little as doable.”
Laurila: What’s your present peak and weight?
Grey Jr.: “I’m six-foot-3 and 215 kilos. I’m listed at lower than that, however I’ve grown since I used to be drafted. And I’ve truly misplaced weight, too. The offseason of 2019, I used to be 230 [pounds]. I needed to shed some pounds, as a result of I received too large from an excessive amount of lifting. For some cause, I’ve all the time been in a position to placed on weight — placed on muscle — actually fast. I want to observe that, as a result of I need to keep versatile and quick; I need to keep in middle.”
Laurila: How happy are you together with your season?
Grey Jr.: “As soon as once more, this was simply my first full season and I used to be in a position to do what I used to be in a position to do. At this level, I’m going to make use of the excuse that I’m nonetheless younger. However are you aware what? After awhile, that’s not going to be an excuse anymore. Over time, I’m going to have the ability to say that I’ve received the boldness it takes to do what I can do.”