Vanderbilt's Price selected first overall by Devil Rays
Hard-throwing left-hander David Price of Vanderbilt was selected by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with the No. 1 pick in the baseball draft Thursday.
Price went 11-1 with a 2.63 ERA and Division I-leading 194 strikeouts for the Commodores. He is the fourth left-hander taken with the top pick and first since Brien Taylor went to the New York Yankees in 1991.
"I knew that I had the talent to be that type of player," Price said. "So, I just had to put the talent and the mental game together."
The first round of the draft was being televised live from an actual site for the first time after being held strictly by conference call in previous years. About 400 to 500 fans were at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex located outside of Orlando, Fla., and commissioner Bud Selig was in attendance, along with Tom Lasorda, Dave Winfield, Darryl Strawberry, Don Zimmer and Frank Howard.
"You look at this draft today, and look at the coverage today, it's really remarkable," Selig said. "Think how the draft used to be conducted when I first got into baseball in 1970. We've come a long way. This is the way it's supposed to be."
With the second pick, Kansas City took power-hitting California high school infielder Mike Moustakas with the second pick. The Chicago Cubs went with California high school third baseman Josh Vitters, who was at the draft and posed with his Cubs hat and jersey next to Selig -- the first in the event's history to do so.
"This was really important -- a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Vitters said. "I'm glad to be part of it. There's definitely some electricity, especially before I got picked. My heart was racing."
Next, Clemson lefty Daniel Moskos went to Pittsburgh. Baltimore selected Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters with the fifth overall selection.
About two dozen Devil Rays fans chanted "Let's Go Rays!" and "We Want Price!" during the commercial break after Selig made a few opening remarks and Tampa Bay went on the clock. Each team had five minutes to make its first-round pick.
It was the third time in franchise history the Devil Rays had the top pick and first since they took outfielder Delmon Young in 2003. Tampa Bay took an outfielder with its first No. 1 pick in 1999.
Price's dominant season came to a surprising end in the regionals when his top-ranked Commodores lost to Michigan on Monday. In that game, he came on in relief and took his first loss of the year after striking out 17 against Austin Peay three days earlier. Projected as a future staff ace in the majors, Price has a fastball measured in the mid-90s. He mixes it well with an outstanding slider and changeup.
Moustakas, California's career high school home run leader with 52, hit a state-record 24 this season while leading Chatsworth High School to the city title at Dodger Stadium. The left-handed slugger played shortstop in high school but projects more as a corner infielder in the pros.
Vitters, considered by many to be the top high school player in the draft, hit .360 with nine HRs and 29 RBIs -- despite missing two weeks with pneumonia -- for Cypress High School.
Moskos moved from his role as closer to starter midway through this season for the Tigers. He was just 3-5 with a 2.91 ERA heading into super regionals but has three potentially dominant pitches.
Wieters, a 6-foot-5 catcher, is outstanding defensively and has a strong, accurate arm, but his powerful bat should get him to the majors quickly. He hit .358 with 10 homers and 59 RBIs for the Yellow Jackets this season.
Missouri State lefty Ross Detwiler went sixth overall to Washington. Milwaukee then selected slugging Florida first baseman Matt LaPorta, despite having Prince Fielder seemingly entrenched at the position.
Right-handed closer Casey Weathers, Price's teammate on the Commodores, went next to Colorado. Arizona selected Jarrod Parker, an Indiana high school right-hander with what was considered the best fastball among prep pitchers. San Francisco rounded out the top 10 picks by taking North Carolina high school lefty Madison Bumgarner.
Canadian right-hander Phillippe Aumont went to Seattle at No. 11; Florida took third baseman Matt Dominguez, Moustakas' high school teammate; Cleveland selected Lewis-Clark State third baseman Beau Mills, the son of Boston bench coach and former big-leaguer Brad Mills; Atlanta picked a hometown kid, selecting Georgia high school outfielder Jason Heyward; and Pennsylvania high school catcher Devin Mesoraco went to Cincinnati at No. 15.
Toronto selected Texas high school infielder Kevin Ahrens with the first of its two first-round picks and took Tennessee catcher J.P. Arencibia at No. 21.
Texas, also with two first-rounders, took right-hander Blake Beavan from Irving High School in Texas with the 17th selection and followed that by taking Florida high school right-hander Michael Main at No. 24.
St. Louis took Oklahoma high school shortstop Pete Kozma at No. 18; Rice left-hander Joe Savery went to Philadelphia next; and Texas high school righty Chris Withrow was picked by the Los Angeles Dodgers to complete the top 20 selections.
With its two picks, San Francisco took Arizona high school righty Tim Alderson at No. 22 and Mississippi high school outfielder Wendell Fairley at No. 29.
Arkansas left-hander Nick Schmidt went 23rd to San Diego; the Chicago White Sox took University of San Francisco lefty Aaron Poreda at No. 25; Oakland followed by selecting UC Riverside righty James Simmons; New Jersey high school righty Rick Porcello went to Detroit; and Kentucky high school outfielder Ben Revere went to Minnesota.
The New York Yankees capped the first round by selecting 6-foot-10 North Carolina State right-hander Andrew Brackman, who quit the basketball team after his sophomore season to focus on pitching.
In addition to being televised, this year's draft brings about one major rule change that's sure to affect contract negotiations. There's an Aug. 15 deadline for signing players under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement. If a player selected in the early rounds fails to sign, the team that drafted him will receive a comparable pick in 2008.
The draft wrapped up after five rounds and will resume Friday around 11:30 a.m. EDT, with teams picking through 50 rounds.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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