Wednesday, July 9, 2008

David Price Projection and Call Up Speculation

In a previous post, I did some estimating and said that I thought David Price would end up posting a K/9 in the minors around 9 or 10, and a ground ball rate in the mid-50% range along with a BB/9 of about 2. Those projections were made about a month ago after his first 18 innings at high A ball, and Price has since made the move to AA, so I thought now would be a good time to revisit the subject, look at some stats, and see what else we've learned about the highly regarded hurler.

Price's AA stats are only based off of 18 innings, but overall we have about 54 innings of work from him to analyze. It's not a very large sample size, but Price has been fairly consistent and I think we have a rough idea of what to expect from him in the next year or so. If he maintains his current pace, it looks like he'll finish AA with a K/9 of 9, a BB/9 of just over 2, and a GB% of about 50%. At his age, that puts him in with Roy Oswalt, Mike Pelfrey, and Justin Verlander (here's a chart of each player's AA stats at the age of 22 to see how they compare against one another).

(For player's whose GB% rates at AA were unavailable, I used their career averages.)

Price probably best compares to Oswalt and Verlander, who went on to post ERAs of 2.73 and 3.63 respectively in the majors at the age of 23. Since Price will be pitching in the A.L. East, he'll probably come out on the high side of that range, and there's a good chance that he could struggle if he gets called up to make several starts before the end of the '08 season. However, the Rays have a very good group of pitchers at the front of their rotation, so it would make more sense if Price came in for bullpen duty or the occasional spot start against a lower tier team. Either way, he'll probably spend part of August and September with the Rays, and will probably get carried on their post-season roster if they make the playoffs.

To wrap things up, I would like to point out that there are several pitchers in AA posting better stats than Price at a younger age. In my opinion, Price is not the #1 pitching prospect in the minors, and had he been signed out of high school instead of college, there would be very little hype surrounding him. I've read several articles by well known analysts touting Price as the next Kazmir, Gooden, King Felix, etc. But what such analysts fail to consider is that by the age of 22, each of those pitchers had already established themselves as dominate #1 starters in the majors, while Price is still putting up above average stats in AA. He'll be a solid middle of the rotation starter with a chance to develop into a good #1 or #2 starter, but I'm not really excited about him at the moment. However, he was a very safe pick for the Rays, and can provide some immediate benefits to the club.

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