Can you imagine a time the MLB Draft wasn’t on TV? Weird right. Now every year you flip on MLB Network to see who your favorite team selected. However, MLB Network didn’t come on-air until 2009, so does anyone remember what we did before then?
Well, not much. From 1965-2006 we just had to guess what was going live and waited for the team to officially announce who they selected. However, that all changed in 2007.
For the first time in history, the MLB Draft was broadcast live on TV on June 7th, 2007, 14 years ago today. The broadcast was live from Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays held the number one overall selection.
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Unfortunately for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, when you have the number one overall pick, you are the worst team in the league. And in the first 11 drafts the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had a first-round pick, they picked number one overall three times.
Number one overall pick in the MLB Draft-Attempt number one
The first time the Devil Rays had the first pick in the MLB Draft was 1999, one year after professional baseball came to Tampa. After a 63-99 record, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected outfielder Josh Hamilton out of high school.
The Josh Hamilton story is a mostly sad one, but it is worth much more than being told in a couple of lines. For the sake of this story, and a likely more in-depth look, later on, we will say Josh Hamilton never played a game with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in his career.
Number one overall pick in the MLB Draft-Attempt number two
After a 55-106 2002 season for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, they held the number one pick in the 2003 MLB Draft. With that pick, they once again went with an outfielder, out of high school, this time Delmon Young.
Delmon Young, who many remember for his bone-headed decision to throw his bat at the home-plate umpire in a game with the Durham Bulls in 2006, played in parts of only two seasons with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Number one overall pick in the MLB Draft-Attempt number three
This brings us to 2007. The 2006 Tampa Bay Devil Rays finished the season 61-101 with a team ERA of 4.96, not good. Lucky for them, a young starting pitcher out of Vanderbilt University was sitting as the obvious choice at number one.
With the first pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, The Tampa Bay Devil Rays select David Price
Why was it obvious? 11-1 record in 2007, 2.63 ERA, 194 strikeouts, a single-season record for Vandy, in only 133.1 innings pitched. Need more convincing? How about awards?
Price won the SEC Pitcher of the Year, SEC Male Athlete of the Year, First-Team SEC, Golden Spikes Award, CSTV’s College Player of the Year, Brooks Wallace Award Winner, and the Dick Howser Trophy Winner, among many others.
So yes, it was an easy choice, but just for fun, the second overall pick? Mike Moustakas.
So, for the first-ever MLB Draft on National TV, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays got some media exposer, as they selected what would become one of the best players in franchise history. Although it ended rather rocky with Price in Tampa, you can’t deny his stats.
In seven seasons in Tampa, Price finished with an 82-47 record, 3.18 ERA, 122 ERA+, 1.14 WHIP, and 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Those stats earned Price four American League All-Star nods as a member of the Rays, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014.
Arguably David Price’s biggest moment as a Tampa Bay Ray was winning the 2012 American League Cy Young. Price pitched to a 20-5 record in 2012, with a 2.56 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 150 ERA+, and 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. He was the first Ray to ever win the award.
However, arguing that this was Price’s biggest moment in a Rays uniform wouldn’t be a hard case to make.