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The Price Is Ri-sing: Rays Pitcher Called Up

Eli Nachmany@EliNachmanyCorrespondent IIIMay 25, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 29:  David Price #14 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies during the continuation of game five of the 2008 MLB World Series on October 29, 2008 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

David Price is back. The young lefty was called up when Scott Kazmir went to the 15-day DL due to a bad right quad.

It has been a long, winding road for Price. Just two years ago he was the Major League's No. 1 overall pick. The Rays decided to take a chance on the southpaw, as his maturity branded him for early success.

Price ascended quickly through the minors, drawing raving reports from many scouts. In 2008, he joined a young Rays pitching staff that included the likes of Matt Garza, James Shields, and Scott Kazmir.

He fit right in with the talented nucleus, throwing in five games (four of which were relief appearances) to the tune of a sparkling 1.93 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 14 innings.

His story was bigger than the Rays themselves as the miracle contenders marched through the playoffs. Surprising to most, he did not receive a spot on the Rays Major League roster as the 2009 season began.

At .500 and looking for a spark, the Rays decided that because a starting pitcher fill-in was necessary, Price was their guy. He will make his 2009 debut on Memorial Day, and the Rays are hoping this will be a start to remember.

"I [worked] on my changeup during the spring and the offseason...but what I've got works [already]," said Price when asked of adjustments he's made in preparation for receiving a spot in the rotation.

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How good is Price, anyway?

"He's got a chance to rewrite a lot of the record books here if he stays healthy, I'll tell you that. I would expect him to do so," said Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey.

Price has a fastball that ranges from 94-95, but has been seen at 98. He also employs a plus slider to put away hitters and, as he said, he is working on a changeup.

He was the top prospect in the minors last year, heading a talented group that included Matt Wieters, Cameron Maybin, Colby Rasmus, Travis Snider, and other future greats.

Price looks to be the best player to ever emerge from Vanderbilt college, followed by Indians hurler Jeremy Sowers.

This could be just what baseball needed. Price may shift focus away from steroid allegations. With Manny and A-Rod revealed to be on the juice, baseball's image is tarnished.

While these two malcontents are not holy grail athletes, they were at the top of the game. Them being on the juice put the game into perspective for mostโ€”a bin of cheaters and liars who attain enjoyment from unfairly breaking records.

But Price seems different. He is one who seems to put integrity back into the game. With newer, seemingly honest stars coming up, is a golden age coming around?

With Price's debut on Memorial Day, let's make this an era to remember. In a good way.

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