by Marketing ROC

Peyton Gray named American Association Rookie of the Year

This year, the American Association fielded perhaps the highest level of competition in the league's history. With a smaller field of teams, the dispersal draft, and the suspension of service time requirements, the league's average player age was nearly two years older than it was in 2019. Only a handful of true rookie-eligible players across the circuit managed to find the field this summer. But none of that intimidated Peyton Gray of the Milwaukee Milkmen, who was named as the American Association's 2020 Rookie of the Year on Tuesday.

That Gray won the award -- which is voted on by the league's managers, team executives, and media representatives -- should come as no surprise to Milkmen fans, especially after he was already honored as the league's Relief Pitcher of the Year. But it another well-deserved accolade for the 25 year old, who posted perhaps the finest season that any bullpen arm has authored in the league's history.

Gray had to win a spot in the Milkmen bullpen during training camp before the season and opened the year in a middle relief role. But when Myles Smith went down for a brief period in the early part of the year, the door opened for Gray to come in and lock down the role as closer for manager Anthony Barone.

During the course of the season, Gray appeared in 30 games for Milwaukee and logged 32.0 innings pitched. In that time, he allowed only 10 hits and 14 walks for a WHIP of 0.750. He struck out 56 batters and finished with a perfect 0.00 earned run average. Not a single run -- earned or otherwise -- crossed the plate during any of Peyton's outings this season. He recorded 14 saves among 20 games finished, and was credited with three winning decisions against zero losses.

Gray pitched collegiately at Western Michigan and Florida Gulf Coast University before beginning his professional career as an undrafted free agent with the Colorado Rockies in 2018. In parts of two seasons split between the Pioneer League and Northwest League, Gray posted a 2.22 ERA across 24.1 innings pitched. He was released after tallying only 3.0 innings across two appearances in 2019, but proved he was fully healthy with the Milkmen this season and thrived against the highest level of competition he ever faced.

The American Association will announce other awards on the following schedule:

  • Executive of the Year Wednesday, Sept. 16
  • Playing Surface of the Year Thursday, Sept. 17
  • Organization of the Year October

The Milkmen lead the Championship Series two games to none and are on the road in Sioux Falls to face the Canaries as the playoffs continue. You can watch the games by subscribing to AA Baseball TV.