What more can we say about David Price? We featured the Vanderbilt lefthander last summer when he won our Summer Player of the Year award; we ranked him No. 1 on our preseason draft prospects list and kept him there all year long; we chronicled his amazing weekly exploits for the Commodores this spring, when he went 11-1, 2.63 with 194 strikeouts and 31 walks in 133 innings; and we detailed his inevitable selection as the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft by the Devil Rays.
Now that Price can add the label of Baseball America’s 2007 College Player of the Year to his impressive resume, we’ll let other people do the talking. We asked those who have coached Price, those who have coached against him, and even Price himself to try to put his season and his talent into historical context. Here’s what they said.
Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin:
“As good as he is for your team when he’s pitching, he drives the level of energy for your team up three or four notches when he’s not playing because he’s an active participant. I’ve never seen a kid who sits on the bench’"he doesn’t sit, he leans over the railing with a fungo bat in his hand’"and he doesn’t miss a pitch. He’s far beyond a cheerleader, cheerleader is almost mocking what kind of a kid he is. He’s like an extension of a coach, he’s into every single pitch. He’s the first one off the bench every single time, not second or third, he’s first. He’s so competitive, he doesn’t want to finish second in anything. It’s not a put-on, it’s just what he does. He likes the fact that he is a good teammate, and when you tell him that, it makes him smile and it makes him feel proud. Even at the major league level, you can’t minimize it. He’s going to be a tremendous clubhouse person.
“He’s a very jovial locker-room guy. He’s got something going with everyone on the team. His continual text messages, his leaving of notes to coaches. Even before we played Michigan on the last day, he left a note on my desk, it said, ‘If you’re too scared to coach this game, let me know, I’ll coach this team. I can do anything I want to.’ Even though it was a joke, that’s how he feels, and it wasn’t disrespectful in any way, he just thinks he’s capable of doing anything. For a kid who came in here from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, he was kind of quiet and shy, but he’s leaving here confident and verbal. He backed up everything he said.”
Texas Christian coach Jim Schlossnagle, who was Price’s pitching coach with Team USA last summer:
“You think of a lefty, he’s got deception like Dontrelle Willis, but he’s got more stuff. I’ve never seen Sandy Koufax pitch, only on video. But I’m trying to think of a really, really loose arm, loose-bodied lefty that has that has a great fastball, and Koufax is the only guy I can come up with.
“It seems like every third year there’s a guy that is supposed to be ‘can’t-miss,’ but the thing about David Price that can’t miss is makeup. And I am talking about absolutely off the charts makeup, from work ethic to team orientation to selflessness. On days he’s not pitching, he’s literally the bat boy. He was that all summer long for Team USA. That kid is team before self, more so than any other player I’ve ever been around. He’s amazing. Mark Teixeira said one time to my team, ‘There’s big league ability all over the minor leagues, but there’s very little big league makeup.’ If I was ever going to put money on somebody, it would be David Price.”
South Carolina coach Ray Tanner:
“I really believe there are some quality pitchers in college baseball, and he may be the cream of the crop. But that aside, he’s got all the intangibles working for him. He’s a consummate team guy, he’s got energy, he’s very mature’"guys like that, they move in a hurry.
“You talk about his arm, who is it, Sandy Koufax? Vida Blue? I don’t know. I used to tell everybody we’re facing Vida Blue today when we had to face Vandy. But I’m really impressed with the complete player that David Price is. Yes, he’s good, he wins, his numbers, he’s done all that, but is there more? Yes, there’s more. All the intangibles are in place for him to have a short stay in the minors.”
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn:
“Really what I saw in David Price and what made him so tough is every Friday night, Vanderbilt knew they were going to win. That’s such a positive when you’re practicing during the week, going on the road to someone else’s ballpark, you know you have David Price on the mound, he’s going to give you eight quality innings, and you’re going to be 1-0 going into Saturday.
“He reminds me more of a big leaguer than a college player, he just carried himself with the confidence, the athletic ability, the talent. He’s going to be an all-star one day.”
Louisiana State coach Paul Mainieri:
“He’s really good. He’s as good as I’ve seen in my career. I’ve had some good ones too’"Aaron Heilman, Brad Lidge, Jeff Samardzija’"and I’ve seen a lot of good ones against us through the years. But I was amazed how good he was. Not only does he have the physical attributes’"he threw in the mid-90s, good breaking ball, change’"but his command, I don’t think he ever threw a pitch above the thighs. Every pitch was between the knees and the thighs, not only was he throwing strikes, but good strikes.
“He also was a very fierce, fierce competitor. He’s very emotional out there, but he competed in a way that wasn’t offensive to the other team. He did it with class. You like to see kids that are. I watched the kid the next two days, he was in the dugout leading the cheering for his teammates, the first guy out of the dugout to congratulate his teammates. To me it was very refreshing to see a superstar like that. I think he’s going to do some real special things like that. There’s no way this kid can miss being a superstar in the big leagues in my opinion.”
“This has been hands down the greatest year of my life. I give all the credit to my teammates and my coaches and my family, they’ve been there for me all year. I guess I’ve been on top of the draft boards all year, but my teammates just treated me like I’m a normal teammate. They helped me out a lot this year. This could have been a very, very stressful year, but there was no stress at all thanks to them.”