With the 2015 Major League Baseball draft exactly a month away, Mississippi State Bulldogs commit Gray Fenter continues to improve his draft stock. The 6’1″, 190-pound Fenter belongs to the 2015 class at West Memphis High School in West Memphis, Arkansas.
Fenter has a medium athletic build and a slower-paced delivery with some rock back over the rubber along with a high 3/4 arm slot from a medium-length arm action. He works down the mound very well and consistently hits mid-to-high 90’s velocity. He works well low in the zone and creates deception when delivering the ball. His power slider with very good depth is his put-away pitch. His change-up is a work in progress and will be key in the college ranks, while his velocity and slider are already pluses in his arsenal.
Never really pitched until last year. Got on the bump one day and hit 93.
I had an opportunity to speak with Fenter on the phone, and as I spoke to him more about his baseball background, I learned he just started pitching. It blew my mind. “Never really pitched until last year. Got on the bump one day and hit 93.” He told me he had never thrown a bullpen or anything at all, just went up to the mound raw and effortlessly hit 93. “I realized if I was going to make it, I would have more potential as a pitcher than a position player.” When Fenter isn’t pitching he plays second base and shortstop, but obviously as he enrolls at Mississippi State in the fall he will become a full-time pitcher.
Originally, Fenter verbally committed to University of Mississippi and then decommitted after Ole Miss lost the coach who recruited Gray.
When I first committed to Ole Miss my sister was going there so I knew the school well. But then I knew I had the chance to do more than college baseball. I found the place with the best pitching coach to help me get better over a span of four years.
Fenter had other colleges after him, including Louisiana State University and Arkansas, but the Bulldogs seemed personally like a excellent fit for him. It is also a plus that the campus in Starkville, Mississippi, is a three hour drive from his home in Arkansas. “I felt like Mississippi State is the place for me,” he said.
The right-hander has recently topped out at 98 mph and continues to open the eyes of major league scouts. As he looks forward to the 2015 MLB Draft in June, there are some things Fenter admits he can improve on to increase his draft stock.
I’m going to let it loose. I’ve already shown I have the command. I’ve consistently hit 94-96 mph every start. I’m just going to focus on showing them (MLB scouts) I have the velocity and the ability to fill up the zone at the same time.
Increasing his draft stock has also come from the showcases he has attended. He has only pitched in two showcases, including Area Code and the Under Armour All-American Game last summer. He also took part in the USA Team 18U, which won gold medal as they beat Cuba in the finals.
“It was really intense, I pitched the last two innings and struck out the side in the eighth inning. They swing hard and throw hard.”
These showcases include the cream of the crop of high school players and have given pitchers arm issues in the past, but Fenter says they don’t take a toll on his arm.
The only thing that is bad about the showcases is you have a new catcher that doesn’t know you and they don’t know what your pitches do. The showcases don’t necessarily give you the time you need to warm up and don’t ever start on time. I wouldn’t say they take a toll on your arm, but they are very difficult to pitch in.
He adds that some pitchers have a different mindset coming in and many prospects come in hours after landing at an airport. In Fenter’s mind this is a huge factor in performance for these scouts.
Due to the pressure you’re in with the scouts being there, not knowing your catcher, and not actually knowing when you’re gonna start throwing, these showcases are harder than they look.
Traveling is a huge part as well, according to the Arkansas native.
I would fly in the night before on a six hours flight and have a lot of jet-lag going in. Guys that go into these showcases and thrive have a different mentality than guys who just show up there and don’t have their best stuff. There are so many things.
After high school baseball is done and over with, Fenter looks forward to summer ball. Normally during the summer he plays with Dulins Dodgers out of Memphis, but this year will be different for the righty as he looks to get more familiar with the coaching staff at Mississippi State.
I’ll be going to class and working out with the coaches at State, getting to know the ropes before it all gets started.
Gray has played for the Dodgers for the past four years, and the team has ten players currently committed to play baseball at Mississippi State. As for adjustments, he just looks forward to college.
I’m looking forward to get out of high school ball and go wherever ball takes me. Getting to be with people who know baseball more than anyone else. I want to learn more about the game.
Fenter has many weapons in his pitching arsenal and has the confidence to throw all four of his pitches for strikes.
I throw a two seam, four seam, slider and change-up. Slider is my second best pitch and the change-up is a mixture of a traditional and the circle-change. Pitchers get their own kind of feel for the change, as long as it works for them.
There are many people in Gray’s life who have impacted him in a great way not only in his baseball career, but in his life.
My family as a whole has done a lot and has been there for me. My high school coach, who is a family friend grew up and went to high school with my brother. He played football and baseball with my brother. He’s been there for me as well, but its a group effort.
The 18-year old has a couple favorite current major leaguers who he admires and patterns himself after just as any other baseball player.
Fenter is a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, who play approximately four hours away from his hometown of West Memphis.
Gray has a bright future ahead of him. He continues to wow scouts and coaches. The sky is the limit for Fenter and he could develop into being a number one starter for Mississippi State if he doesn’t sign with a team in the upcoming draft. He has the ability, talent, and work ethic to be the next big thing.
Follow Lucas Barrett on Twitter @Lukiee_Dukiee