August 03, 2015

DENVER (AP) The Colorado Rockies are about to introduce a top prospect a week after trading the face of the franchise.

Eight days after dealing All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Jon Gray, Colorado's top pitching prospect, is expected to make his major league debut Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners.

Gray arrived in Denver on Monday morning after getting word late Sunday that he was being called up.

''It kind of hit me when I got to the ballpark,'' Gray said. ''It's just now coming into effect what it feels like. It was an awesome high.''

Gray, 23, was the third overall pick in the 2013 draft. The hard-throwing right-hander was 6-6 with a 4.33 ERA in 21 games - 20 starts - for Triple-A Albuquerque this season. In his last six starts he is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 38 strikeouts.

The Rockies were being patient with Gray but his performance over the last month pushed up his timetable, which surprised him.

''I wasn't expecting it, especially on this homestand,'' he said. ''They told me, `Here is your plane ticket, you're heading out and going to the big team.'''

Gray's arrival takes the sting out of last week's trade that sent Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rockies, on the way to their fifth straight losing season, are in rebuilding mode and Gray is considered one of the cornerstone pieces of the future.

''I guess it is ironic that the face of the franchise has moved on and we've got one of our young kids that we've been anticipating pitching for us making his debut right after it,'' manager Walt Weiss said. ''We felt like we'd see him at some point this year. And that day has arrived.''

Gray has moved quickly through the Rockies' system. He was 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in nine minor league starts in 2013 and was 10-5 with a 3.91 ERA in 24 starts with Double-A Tulsa in 2014.

He struggled early this season with high pitch counts, which didn't allow him to go deep into games. He had only one start that went beyond the seventh inning but he showed steady improvement since late June.

Still, the Rockies weren't ready to bring him up before Tuesday.

''He wasn't going to be up here until everybody felt that he was ready,'' Weiss said. ''That trumped the need of where we are at as a team. We wanted to make sure that he is ready to go out there and he is equipped for a major league game. We feel that he is.''

Gray was Colorado's highest pick since right-hander Greg Reynolds was taken second overall in 2006. Reynolds won only six games in his major league career.

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