Jonathan Gray and Major League Baseball's amateur draft keep colliding.
Twice before, Gray delayed the start of his professional career, after being picked in the 13th round by Kansas City out of Chandler High and the 10th round by the Yankees after his one season at Eastern Oklahoma State.
Gray just kept waiting for something better — from himself.
“I didn't want to settle for something when I knew I could do better,” the Sooners ace pitcher said earlier this season. “I really wanted to get to my personal best before I went to professional ball. There are so many areas I could be better. I really want to be the best I can.”
With the 2013 draft beginning Thursday night, it doesn't get any better than this: No. 1.
Many project Gray to go No. 1 overall, to the Houston Astros, although his positioning is somewhat in doubt following the news from earlier in the week that he had tested positive for the banned substance Adderall in MLB predraft testing.
Still, Gray still projects as a high first round pick.
And if he goes No. 1, Gray will become just the state's second first overall pick in the history of the draft, joining Mike Moore of Oral Roberts in 1981.
Gray is but one of three state college pitchers who could go in the first round, with ORU's Alex Gonzalez projected as a mid-round selection and Oklahoma State's Jason Hursh a possibility for later in the first, or as a supplemental pick.
This year figures to continue a trend of first-round pitching talent for the state. Last year, OSU's Andrew Heaney went No. 9 overall to the Marlins, Edmond Santa Fe High School's Ty Hensley going No. 30 to the Yankees.
In 2011, the high school ranks produced three first rounders: Owasso's Dylan Bundy at No. 4 to the Orioles, Broken Arrow's Archie Bradley at No. 7 to the Diamondbacks and Deer Creek's Michael Fulmer at No. 44 in the supplemental round to the Mets.
Gray's development into a first-round talent has been gradual, yet well executed.
While he wanted to attend OU out of high school, one season at Eastern offered him the assurance of major innings to work on complementary pitches for his overpowering fastball.
“Jon could throw really hard,” said Sooners coach Sunny Golloway. “And all he had to do was throw the fastball in high school.”
After solid strides at Eastern, Gray made the move to Norman, eventually becoming the Sooners' staff ace and one of the dominant pitchers in the country.
Leading OU into this weekend's Super Regional at LSU, Gray stands 10-2 with a 1.59 earned run average and 138 strikeouts in 119 innings.