GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WFRV) – It’s been quite the professional baseball journey for Brewers’ prospect Joe Gray Jr.
When Milwaukee drafted Gray out of high school in the second round of the 2018 draft, he never imagined what kind of turns his professional baseball career would take. Having played just 24 games after being drafted, Gray had to step away from the diamond.
In an interview with MLB.com, Gray mentioned not being able to breathe in a hotel room and he finally saw a doctor when his fever reached 105 degrees. It was pneumonia. In the process, Gray lost 50 pounds – going from 195 to 147.
“I had never been sick before, so that was something that I never experienced,” said Gray. “I definitely started to question my ability but, why was I doing it? I don’t know, because I didn’t play? I didn’t have any game to show for it.”
After recovering from pneumonia, Gray returned to the diamond in 2019 just to suffer a full-blown hamstring. With so much to overcome, Gray started to second guess himself.
“If baseball wasn’t in my cards even after those two things, that means that I would’ve found out that I don’t have the confidence in myself. Which means that somebody else didn’t have the confidence in me,” Gray told Local 5. “I definitely had those nights and those days where ‘man, this isn’t what I thought pro ball was gonna be’. If anything, if my cards wasn’t going to be in my future then it wasn’t going to be my fault.”
After overcoming a severe case of pneumonia and a hamstring injury, another obstacle was standing in the way of Gray’s baseball journey. Due to the pandemic, the Minor League Baseball season was canceled in 2020. Gray only played in 55 professional baseball games over the span of three years (2018-20).
With a fresh start in 2021 and a clear mind, Gray came out hungrier than ever – playing in 110 games between the Carolina Mudcats (Brewers Low Single-A Affiliate) and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Brewers High Single-A Affiliate). He made a statement batting .252 with 20 home runs and 90 runs batted.
Now in 2022, Gray started the season with the Timber Rattlers and is looking forward to another full season of games to grow as a baseball player.
“I feel like I have a point to prove, you know. But at the end of the day, I like to have my back against the wall,” said Gray.
According to MLB.com, Gray entered the season ranked as the Brewers’ 13th best prospect. Making it to the big leagues and achieving his dream with the brew crew is something he’s striving to do. It would make Gray’s story even better.
“There’s nothing better than that first love. And I love this organization. So if I could do it and if I could do it with them, then I’m with it. I would love it. But it’s definitely exciting man, my foot’s in the door. Only thing that I have to do is keep my foot in it. And then walk through it. That’s the biggest thing. So, at the end of the day, that only happens if I perform.”