Rays Notes: Price Wins Players’ Choice Award, Rays Top Prospects, Brooks Conrad to Japan
By Robbie Knopf
Later this offseason, it will be interesting to see whether David Price wins the AL Cy Young after an incredible season that saw him go 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA and 205 strikeouts in 31 starts and 211 innings, leading the AL in wins, ERA, and winning percentage while finishing in the top 10 in just about every other positive starting pitching category, including 6th in strikeouts and 8th in innings pitched. But Price does have at least one award for his outstanding 2012 season under his belt after inning the Players’ Choice Award for the Most Outstanding Pitcher in the American League. Here’s what Price had to say on winning the award.
"“To gain the respect of those guys and get their vote, that’s very special to me and very special to the Rays and it’s something that I cherish.”"
Over at the Rays’ official site, Price’s teammate and friend James Shields had nothing but glowing things to say about Price’s work ethic that got him to the level that he pitched in 2012.
"“A lot of people have really good years, but Price is the type of pitcher who is going to have good years for many years to come, just because of his work ethic,” Shields said. “He has this competitive nature to him. He wants to outwork everybody. He wants to pitch better than everybody and he’s shown that.” “That’s one of the things that he does,” Shields said. “He wants to get better and better. I think there’s things that all good competitors have. And it’s kind of being a perfectionist. And it’s not always being satisfied with what he’s done. He always wants to get better at his craft, and he’s done that.”"
As for next season? Price thinks he can be even better.
"“I can’t wait for next year,” Price said. “The last three games [of the season] I kind of figured out some things with my off-speed. So next year I’ll be a different pitcher than I was this year. I feel like it will be for the best.”"
It’s nice to see Price win this award, but all these awards are just icing on the cake for the Rays knowing that they have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and a pitcher that will slot in right at the top of their rotation next season and give them everything he can to lead them back to the postseason. Congrats to Price and hopefully his best moments as a Tampa Bay Ray are still to come.
Baseball America released their Top 10 Rays Prospects for 2013, and their selections elicited some controversy. Here were BA’s top 10 Rays prospects:
1. Chris Archer
2. Taylor Guerrieri
3. Hak-Ju Lee
4. Alex Colome
5. Richie Shaffer
6. Enny Romero
7. Blake Snell
8. Tim Beckham
9. Derek Dietrich
10. Drew Vettleson
Archer over Guerrieri at number one was debatable but certainly defensible because Archer is big league-ready while Guerrieri is at least a couple years away from the big leagues, but the big shockers were Colome at #4, Romero at #6, Beckham at #8, and Dietrich at #9 with players such as Mikie Mahtook, Joshua Sale, and Felipe Rivero absent. Colome did definitely deserve to be in the top 10, but the others are more questionable. Romero is getting quite a bit of leeway for a fastball with great velocity and a curveball that only shows flashes when his control and command of both pitches along with his changeup are far away from where they need to be. Beckham still has some upside, but nearly as much as the Rays thought he had when they drafted him, and he still has never hit on a consistent basis. And Dietrich is very interesting because of his power but needs a ton of work on his patience. Sale, meanwhile, hit and got on base the way the Rays knew he could in 2012 although his season was marred by a 50-game meth suspension, while Mahtook was solid all-around in his first pro season and Rivero had flashed dominance and great stuff this season, although his overall numbers were marred by 6 poor relief appearances at the end of the season as he couldn’t adjust to a bullpen role. I won’t give my rankings now as we’re going to have a top prospects list here at RCG later this offseason, but my top 10 looks quite different that Baseball America’s. The overall vibe about the Rays system is that it may be the worst the Rays have had in quite a while- the Rays are the only team in baseball to not have a draft pick from the last five drafts make the major leagues- and the upper levels of the Rays’ system do not have the type of contributors coming that the Rays are used to. But there are players with very interesting upside especially at the lower levels of the system, headlined by players like Guerrieri, Snell, Vettleson, and Sale, and only time will tell whether this current group of Rays prospects will meet the high standard set by the past several years. Another factor is that the Rays may carry out a trade this offseason that bolsters their farm system and completely changes everyone’s perception of it.
And finally, as was rumored a few weeks ago, Brooks Conrad has signed with a Japanese team, the Hanshin Tigers (the rumors had him heading to the Yomiuri Giants). The team’s general manager praised Conrad for his versatility and switch-hitting. Happy trails to Conrads with the Tigers.