I’m sure many of you noticed that in the day or two before the draft we started getting more and more enamored with Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters. Let’s just call that pre-wedding jitters. When it comes down to it, the Rays made the right decision and it sounds as if the decision was an easy one for RJ Harrison and the rest of the front office.
So why were they so secretive while sitting at the top of the draft board? That’s easy. Until a couple of days before the draft, Vanderbilt and David Price were still playing in the NCAA tournament. The last thing Major League Baseball and the Devil Rays needed was to publicly announce that Price was their guy and then have him throw out his arm in a tournament game. The Rays would have egg on their face and it would be a very unfair situation for Price.
In the end, the decision was an easy one. A big power lefty is the rarest of commodities in baseball. And when a team has an opportunity to acquire one, they grab him and run…real fast.
David Price is considered the closest player to the majors in this year’s draft. So where will the Rays assign Price once he signs? First of all, we need to keep in mind that Price has already thrown 133 innings in 2007. The Rays are not going to want to add too many more to his young arm this season. It would not surprise us if he is assigned to AA Montgomery, but high-A Vero Beach is more likely to be his first stop. Depending on when Price is signed, look for only a half dozen starts from him this year (30-35 innings) and a AA Montgomery start next season, with hopes of a mid-season move to AAA Durham. If all goes well he could get 5-6 starts for the Rays in September of next season.
DEVIL RAYS DRAFTOPIA…
- In a change from previous drafts, the Rays have until August 15, to sign their first three picks. If they fail to sign the pick before that deadline, they lose the rights to that player and will be awarded a nearly identical pick in next years draft. For example, if the Rays fail to sign David Price, they will be awarded the #2 pick in 2008.
- Here is a scouts video clip of David Price pitching. This is the first time we have ever seen Price throw. We are obviously not a scout, but we played past high school and we even coached for a few years. First of all, WOW. We have seen a lot of high school games and a lot of college games, and this is the most impressive pitcher we have ever seen at either level. We now see why the scouts drool over him. First thing we noticed is he has an “ease” to his delivery. There is no wasted movement. Notice how, despite being a power pitcher, that he lands like Greg Maddox. That is, very easy on the follow-through (fast forward through the warm-up pitches to the game action. He is not “letting it go” in the warm-up pitches). When a pitcher has such a simple and easy delivery, there is not a lot of strain on the arm. This is why many have stated that he is less likely to have arm troubles than other pitchers. At the end, you get a view from the first base side. Notice how, despite the easy delivery, he generates a lot of arm speed. Never seen anything like it at the college level. And for those that are not familiar with this type of radar gun, it measures the speed at the point of release and also the speed as it crosses the plate. An average fastball will lose 7-10 MPH from the hand to the plate. You would worry if a pitcher was consistently in the 10-11 MPH drop-off range. Price’s fastball looks to be just right, losing around 8 MPH on average. Hold on…we need to clean this drool up.
- In the second round the Rays selected Will Kline, a right-handed pitcher from Ole Miss. Ole Miss is still alive in the NCAA tournament. Kline had Tommy John surgery in high school. A junior, this is the first season in which he was used as full-time starting pitcher since having the surgery.
- In the first 5 rounds, the Rays selected four pitchers. Even MLB.com does not have scouting reports on any of the Rays selections past the second round. So, if anybody thinks they know how well the Rays did in this draft are smoking.