The club signed Vanderbilt University right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray, their 2011 first-round selection and the 18th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. Gray and the A's agreed to a $1.54 million bonus, slightly higher than the recommended slot of $1.422 million for the pick.
"This is a day you look forward to," Gray said. "You look forward to Draft day and you look forward to signing. Thankfully we got a deal done and I'm happy to be here."
Gray stopped by the A's clubhouse Monday and joined the team during batting practice to loosen up with the pitching staff, and will fly to Arizona on Tuesday to get back into pitching shape before joining Double-A Midland for the rest of the season, likely at the beginning of August.
"I thought it was a great opportunity," Gray said. "They came up with the proposal to send me to Midland and we jumped on it and we were excited about that. Going to Midland and going to Double-A is exciting, but it's going to be a challenge. It's something I'm looking forward to."
Gray, who said he is often compared to Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt, went 12-3 with a 2.12 ERA and a .200 opponents batting average in 18 games (all starts) for the Commodores. They advanced to the semifinals of the 2011 College World Series, in which Gray made two appearances.
Gray hasn't thrown from a mound since his trip to Omaha, Neb., but he struck out 124 batters in 119 innings and allowed only four home runs as his team cruised to a 54-12 overall record.
The College World Series was a fitting capper for Gray's decorated Vanderbilt career. Gray, who is 5-foot-11 and weighs 200 pounds, was a second-team All-SEC selection in 2010. He also was named as having the best secondary pitch among college pitchers by Baseball America.
"One of his best attributes is his makeup," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's a tough kid who loves to compete. That doesn't show up in the stat sheets. The stats were good, but I think what was recognized was what type of competitor he is."
That competitive nature, Gray said, is part of what drove him to getting a deal with the club finished before the Aug. 15 deadline.
"I was sitting at home being bored and having nothing to do, so we wanted to get something worked out where I could go play right now," Gray said. "We got it worked out, and it's a little bit of that, too, just wanting to get out and compete and play."
The A's have now signed or agreed to terms with 26 players from the Draft, including 19 of their first 25 picks.
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.