Devil Rays Draft Organization Report
Rays Cash In
|Jim Callis' Quick Take|
|Vanderbilt lefty David Price was the obvious selection at No. 1. In a couple of years, the Devil Rays will have three devastating southpaws in their rotation in Price, Scott Kazmir and Jacob McGee. Keep an eye on California high school righthander Nick Barnese (third round). He has touched 94 mph in the past, and his fastball is most notable for its life.|
ST. PETERSBURG--The Devil Rays don't often see things work out. So once they earned the first pick in this year's draft and executive president Andrew Friedman
and scouting director R.J. Harrison
set their sights on Vanderbilt lefthander David Price
as the top choice, it was a question of what could go wrong?
Instead it went very right.
Price stayed healthy, maintained his status as the nation's top college pitcher and dazzled on the mound. The Rays need an advanced prospect, especially a lefthander, for the front end of their rotation, and soon. Contract negotiations are expected to be amicable, and possibly quick.
"It's really a testament to David," Friedman said. "It's really a testament to who he is as a player and who he is as a person because you don't see that very often where a player in October that you have first on your draft board, and you keep an open mind, and R.J. and his staff did that and went through the process, to maintain that rank is a great accomplishment. It really speaks volumes to him."
The Rays like everything about Price--his skill and talent on the mound, which led to an 11-1, 2.63 performance and a nation-leading 194 strikeouts (and only 31 walks) in 133 innings for the Commodores; his character, which they feel will keep him on the right path and out of trouble as he adjusts to the pro lifestyle; and his competitiveness, which they expect to fuel his desire to be successful.
Realistically, he could join the rotation by the end of 2008 or 2009.
"I think he really enjoys what he's doing and he enjoys the challenge of trying to be the best he can be," Harrison said. "He told me people have asked him if he can live up to all the expectations of being No. 1 overall and he just told me . . . 'my expectations of myself are higher than anyone could place on me.' I just think he's a very confident young man and carries himself extremely well."
Price, 21, seemed equally appreciative and relatively unaffected. He watched the draft with family and teammates in Nashville, comparing the occasion to signing with Vandy, winning an SEC championship and becoming an uncle with the birth of his nephew among the best days of his life. He said that to celebrate the occasion he'd probably play golf and that his big plans for the ensuing bonus probably would be to add to his collection of 50 or so pairs of shoes.
"Now that the day's over with, I feel good," Price said. "It's been kind of nervewracking."
The Rays plan to open contract talks today, hoping to strike a quick deal with advisor Bo McKinnis
, who represented Dewon Brazelton
, the team's ill-fated top pick in 2001, along with current Devil Ray Casey Fossum
. Last year's top college pitcher, Andrew Miller
, got a four-year, $5.5 million major league deal from the Tigers, and it's safe to assume Price seeks more.
"It's difficult to project how long it will take," Friedman said. "I think the important thing to know is that we very much want to get a deal done and so does he."