Throughout David Price’s career he has been known as a leader in each clubhouse he’s been a part of. He is a guy who gives max effort on a daily basis no matter what position the club might be in. On top of all that, he has worked with numerous rookies around him so that they could find their path at the major league level. Two young studs that immediately come to mind on that subject are Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays and Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays.
At a time in baseball in which so many young players are dominating the league and carrying different clubs, it’s essential to have the right leaders around to guide them. One rookie last year that didn’t have that leader to guide him on the mound was Price’s new teammate Eduardo Rodriguez. As the 2015 season went along Rodriguez struggled with numerous issues involving his mechanics and consistency.
Eddie would often flash potential, but that was thanks to his raw stuff and not his approach. It was obvious Rodriguez hadn’t yet learned the proper components of pitching at the major-league level. David Price is a guy who understands that process as well as anyone, because he was forced to work through it himself. With a monumental season coming up for Eduardo development wise, Price’s insight and advice could be huge towards him taking that next step in his career.
In 21 starts last year, Rodriguez posted a promising 3.85 ERA with a 7.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Not too bad for a 22-year-old that was getting by thanks to pure stuff alone. During the season the rookie struggled because he was tipping his pitches on a regular basis. Mechanical struggles like that are extremely tough to work through, especially in-season. Pitching coach Carl Willis continued to work with his young charge throughout the season to erase the issue, but it still popped up at times when things got ugly. It was obvious the issue held Rodriguez back significantly. His pitching approach had to be altered so that he could survive and not get knocked around. The raw talent itself was a lot of fun to watch every fifth day, but when it got ugly against teams like the Los Angeles Angels and Miami Marlins there was nothing more frustrating. Even the most basic of fans were able to pick up on what pitch was coming next. Twitter (always a great place for positive, uplifting support for professional athletes) became a museum of pictures showing off what Eddie was doing wrong in each game.
The potential Eduardo Rodriguez has if he learns how to become a pitcher and not a “thrower” is unreal. Young, front-of-the-rotation arms have an absurd amount of value in the game of baseball today. Pitching has become so expensive that getting those impact arms will either cost you several strong prospects or hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s why developing them has become so crucial to teams’ success across the league.
Rodriguez’s development in the minors is over, in the majors it’s not even close to being finished. Mentors give a person someone to lean on and learn from when situations seem tough or confusing. In a rotation last year that had other guys figuring out how pitch successfully, there wasn’t really anyone for Eddie to turn to. That dominant ace you could learn from was no where to be found. The signing of Price changes that equation. As an MLB veteran and fellow lefty there are definitely a few lessons Rodriguez could learn from his new teammate’s journey.
Just the other day Marcus Stroman posted a huge Instagram caption thanking David for all the guidance he gave him while in Toronto. Stroman explained, “Even though our time together was limited, you took every opportunity to take me under your wing and teach me your ways. For that, I am forever thankful. Watching and critiquing my bullpens. Treating everyone with class and respect. Putting your teammates first. Showing up early, and staying late. Forming a bond with every single guy on the team. I could go on forever. Thank you @davidprice14. Thankful and lucky to have been your teammate and to call you a friend. You deserve every single penny. More than deserving. Going to miss you at the top step after every inning. With that being said, I can’t wait to compete against you. Excited already thinking about it. Thank you for everything CHAMP. Looking forward to beating you every chance I get for many years to come!”
Price left this much of an impact on Stroman over just a few months! The caption makes it seem like the two had been teammates for a decade. It really goes to show what kind of impact David Price could have on Eddie Rodriguez, if he chooses to take him under his wing like he did Marcus. The lessons Stroman had picked up from Price made him look even more dominant at times than he did before tearing his ACL in March.
I think David Price has been such a mentor to these different guys in his career because his biggest interest is bettering his team. At this point, Price has already won a Cy Young Award and dominated as a pitcher in this league. There is a reason that before Price signed with the Red Sox, he asked GM Mike Hazen for a full layout of their minor league system. It’s all about winning. Professional baseball careers do not last forever. When you can still contribute for a team you must jump on that opportunity. Not to mention, David Price seems like a stand-up guy. Past teammates never seem to have anything negative to say about him. That’s rare in baseball today, where it seems teammates are always talking somewhere.
There is no way to tell in all reality whether Price and Rodriguez might hit it off or just be regular old teammates. But when you have ace on a pitching staff with a young and promising arm like Rodriguez it can’t hurt in any way. The Red Sox are going to need several different things to click perfectly if they hope to have a huge rebound season in 2016. With a starting rotation that includes so many different question marks, it is a must for Eduardo Rodriguez to continue to grow as a pitcher. Stuff alone will not let you survive in this league for very long. Hopefully Price’s mentor history continues when spring training rolls around, and he can lead his fellow left-hander down the same path that just landed himself a seven-year 217 million dollar contract.