The Tampa Bay Rays are not far away from relevance, and currently field one of the best young trios of starting pitchers in all of Major League Baseball, with Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza. Arguably the most important ingredient to the organization's future success, however, is David Price, who the Rays selected with the first overall pick of the 2007 draft.
Recently, I emailed Price several questions, and he was kind enough to answer them.
David, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us.
TH: So, you are coming off a pretty wild year, where you led Vanderbilt to one its best seasons in history while shattering most school records and taking home nearly every prestigious collegiate award possible. Being selected first overall in the draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, along with that huge signing bonus was probably not too shabby, either. Basically, it is fairly safe to say, you actually lived through the junior year of college that every serious high school baseball player dreams of having. What was your personal highlight of 2007, though?
Price: My personal highlight of 2007 was winning the SEC tournament after losing the first game to Tennessee. That had not been done before. It had also been a while that the number one seeded team coming into the tournament had won.
TH: Sticking with the Rays, who appear to finally be steering the ship in the right direction, are you excited by the fact that you have the possibility to sit aside Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza at the top of the Rays' rotation in the next few years?
Price: Yes, I am very excited. Those are three young pitchers who have already accomplishments in the big leagues and have very bright futures.
TH: Have you established relationships with any of the Rays' proven veterans, yet, including Kazmir or Shields?
TH: What has the organization told you about its development plans for you this season?
Price: Keep doing what I am doing.
TH: Although you have yet to pitch in a professional game, word has it—as you were labeled big-league ready by many scouts when you were mowing down batters in the SEC— that you will up with the Rays come September? Do you think this is a realistic possibility, judging by your discussions with the Tampa Bay management?
Price: I haven't had those talks with our management, yet, but I would like to believe I have a chance to get to the big leagues at some point this year.
TH: Is reaching the majors in your first season one of your personal goals for 2008? What are some of the other goals you have set?
Price: Yes, that and staying healthy.
TH: What have you been doing to ready yourself for spring training?
Price: I had been working out and throwing with Matt Buschman (Padres and former teammate at Vandy).
TH: After signing that huge bonus, was there any let down in heading back to Vandy for the fall semester of your senior year?
Price: Not at all.
TH: Why did you decide to choose Vanderbilt as your college of choice, anyway? Was there a hometown discount there, since you had the opportunity to stay in Tennessee?
Price: I wanted a chance for all the people that had watched me play and supported me while I was younger to continue to have the chance to keep watching me play baseball in person.
TH: Jeremy Sowers—an alumnus of my high school, now in the Cleveland Indians organization—set the bar pretty high as perhaps the best left-handed pitcher in Commodores history. Would you say that you have surpassed him? Although he was gone by the time you stepped foot on campus, did his draft status (6th overall selection in 2004) influence your decision to sign with Vanderbilt at all?
Price: Not sure if I have surpassed him because he is an outstanding pitcher, but I wouldn't say that his draft status had a hand in my decision. It was more of the success the team was having and the coaches.
TH: Sticking with Sowers here, which left-handed Vanderbilt alum do you think will reach the bigs quicker in '08? He obviously made his major league debut already, but struggled last summer. Buster Olney, the baseball writer for ESPN.com, is arguably the most famous Vanderbilt alumnus involved with Major League Baseball. How long will it take you to change that?
Price: Hopefully not long at all. I had no idea he went to Vanderbilt.
TH: The Rays have the first selection in next year's draft again. Your good buddy and college teammate, Pedro Alvarez, was recently selected by Baseball America as a 2008 Collegiate Pre-Season All American. By all accounts, Alvarez, one of the most feared collegiate hitters in the nation, is an easy first-round pick, too. What are your thoughts on the possibility that the Rays use their first pick on a Vandy alum, yet again?
Price: Can't go wrong with a Vandy guy.
TH: This offseason, the Rays exorcised the Devil, designing new uniforms? What is your take on the new unis', better or worse than the originals?
Price: I like the new unis. They are very simple, but I like them.
TH: Pretend you are a scout for a second, and list your repertoire, strengths and weaknesses as a pitcher. Basically, give a scouting report on yourself.
Price: Can't do that then others would see!!!! Hitters read this stuff, too!! Ha-Ha.
TH: How much of an impact did Tim Corbin have on your development as a pitcher?
TH: Judging by your number of Facebook friends, it seems as if you are increasing your celebrity status by the day? What is the weirdest autograph request you have received so far?
Price: Ha-Ha, probably signing foreheads. I signed a golf ball today 2/18/08.
TH: Thanks for taking the time answer these questions, David. Good luck to you in 2008 and beyond.
To contact Tyler Hissey, send an email to TylerHissey@gmail.com.