09/19/08 7:56 PM ET
Rays hand out Minor League honors
Price, Perez earn top marks in Tampa Bay's farm system
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
The pair of rookies were both recalled as part of the Rays' September callups and have made an immediate impact in the club's pennant race.
Price completed the path from Class A to the Majors in fewer than four months despite starting the season on the disabled list with a left elbow strain. The 23-year-old southpaw started the year 11-0 between Class A Vero Beach and Double-A Montgomery, and went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four regular-season starts for Triple-A Durham. After making two postseason starts for Durham, he received a Sept. 13 big league callup and made his Major League debut Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
"He was outstanding," farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "Never a day did he not work. Never a day did he not come with the right attitude, and the right approach."
Since joining the Rays, Price has appeared in two games out of the bullpen and has a 3.00 ERA. But what has impressed Rays manager Joe Maddon the most has been the poise from the club's top pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
"With David, we already saw [his ability] in New York City and [Thursday] night," Maddon said.
The same can be said of Perez. While not nearly as touted a prospect as Price, the 25-year-old Columbia University graduate has steadily improved and added valuable tools, such as switch-hitting, to his arsenal.
"Perez is a very focused young man," Lukevics said. "He knows where he's at. He knows where he's going. And he knows how he's going to do it."
The 25-year-old Perez hit .288 in 129 games for Durham, with five home runs with 36 RBIs. He led the Bulls and ranked second in the Rays organization with 43 stolen bases and was named the fastest baserunner in the International League by Baseball America. That speed helped earn the outfielder a callup on Aug. 31, and the Rays have inserted Perez in center field in the absense of starter B.J. Upton (left quadriceps strain).
Maddon noted the marked improvement in Perez since he initially saw the outfielder two years ago, and has been particularly impressed with the speedster's bat. With appearances in all 13 games since his promotion, Perez entered Friday's game hitting .237 with two home runs, a double and five RBIs.
"Fernando has just really come on," Maddon said. "[He] is teaching himself how to be a baseball player."
And while Perez was honored to receive the Player of the Year honors, sitting in the Rays' clubhouse on Friday night -- preparing for his eighth start -- was reward enough.
"All of these awards, accolades, are really water under the bridge," Perez said. "This is really what the big deal is -- being on the team, contributing at the Major League level."
The rest of the Minor League award winners were also honored prior to Friday's game at Tropicana Field:
Player of the Year: INF Dan Johnson
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Mitch Talbot
Vero Beach Devil Rays
Player of the Year: OF Ryan Royster
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Jeremy Hellickson
Hudson Valley Renegades
Player of the Year: OF Kyeong Kang
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Nick Barnese
Dominican Summer League
Player of the Year: OF Cesar Guillen
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Juan Wilsino
Player of the Year: INF Chris Nowak
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Wade Davis
Player of the Year: OF Reid Fronk
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Jesse Darcy
Player of the Year: INF Elias Otero
Pitcher of the Year: LHP Matt Moore
Venezuelan Summer League
Player of the Year: C Alejandro Torres
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Deivis Mavares
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.