Since the Colorado Rockies franchise was established in 1992, the team has selected 30 players in the first round of the draft. Of those 30 players, 18 have been pitchers, including one in each of the past four drafts.

Jonathan Gray was selected by the Rockies in 2013, out of the University of Oklahoma, with the third overall pick. The right-hander has been pitching this season for Triple-A Albuquerque, so far accumulating a 6-6 record with a 4.33 ERA in 20 starts. He has struck out 110 and walked 41. The Rockies drafted the fireballer with the image of a frontline starter. Over his last six starts, the 23-year-old has shown that upside, posting a 3-1 record and a 3.00 ERA to go along with 43 strikeouts in 30 innings.

Gray is expected to make his Major League debut Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners at Coors Field. Rockies fans have eagerly awaited Gray’s promotion all season, while the young right-hander worked to improve the command of his fastball, slider and changeup. With the loss of right-handed starter Kyle Kendrick to the 15-day DL due to right shoulder inflammation, the Rockies decided to forgo Gray’s minor league education and give him his first taste of big league action.

The problem isn’t that Gray’s not ready for the majors. It’s that the Rockies might not be ready for him.

Of the 18 pitchers selected by the Rockies in past first rounds, only Jason Jennings and Jeff Francis were able to develop into above-average starters, and calling them above-average could be considered a stretch. At the start of August 2015, sitting on 44-59 and in the basement of the NL West, the Rockies are playing for 2016. They’re pitching is atrocious, illustrated by the worst ERA in baseball. Pitching coach Steve Foster, in his first year on the job, has struggled to coax quality starts out of his starting pitchers.

Furthermore, the Rockies rotation and bullpen are both messes. Recently Colorado had to go to a four-man rotation because they did not have enough healthy, viable Major League arms. They’ve had to fill their rotation with guys like Chad Bettis, Chris Rusin and Yohan Flande as injuries and poor performances have decimated the Opening Day staff. The bullpen, meanwhile, is being taxed routinely because of short outings by the starters and inconsistencies from within. It’s seemingly a roll of the dice on any given week which bullpen member is going to be solid and which one is going to implode. It’s not exactly an ideal situation for a young prospect to walk into.

Gray has considerably more upside than any pitcher who has taken the mound for Colorado in 2015, but has struggled putting it together over the course of a minor-league season. Now that he has settled into a rhythm in Triple-A, the Rockies should let him finish the season with confidence, instead of (possibly) throwing him to the dogs in what is clearly a lost season.

“The stuff is there. It’s major-league stuff, absolutely,” Zach Wilson, the Rockies’ senior director of player development, told The Denver Post in May. “But it’s the consistency that is the next major step for him. Consistency in command, and consistency in seeing him throw a plus-changeup eight out of 10 times, instead of three out of 10 times.”

While Gray has worked hard to become more consistent, indicated by his most recent stretch of play, a young pitcher’s ego can be a fragile thing. Gray should keep working with Isotopes pitching coach Darryl Scott, continue to improve, and enter the 2016 season with the chance for a clean start – both for the pitcher and the club.

Pitching in Denver can be tough on anybody. Let Gray master his skills before he has to tackle the challenge of pitching in the cavernous ballpark known as Coors Field.

Bryce Rudnick, a Mile High Sports intern and CU-Boulder student, contributed to this report