Beaufort News

Price right for Diamondbacks at No. 904; selection a first for USCB program

Dexter Price wasn't watching the online draft tracker -- he was trying to think about anything but the fact that his name hadn't yet been called -- but his dad was keeping tabs.

And Paul Price had some good news for his son Tuesday evening, as the younger Price's name popped up as the 30th-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, making the right-hander the first USC Beaufort player selected in the Major League Draft in the program's three-year history.

The feeling wasn't entirely new for Price -- the Milwaukee Brewers picked him in the 43rd round in 2008, but he elected to attend Auburn University rather than sign -- but the sensation was different. When he was a high school senior, he was fairly certain he would go to school regardless of where he was picked, but this time, he went into draft week thinking he's likely to forgo his senior season at USCB to sign a pro contract.

"It was a little more stressful this time," Price said. "The waiting was kind of hectic. ... I'm pretty relieved. I'm glad they're giving me a chance, and I'm ready to get started."

Price transferred from Auburn to USCB last season in hopes of earning more playing time and catching scouts' eyes. After going 6-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 12 starts, the move paid off.

"This is a great day for him and his family," USCB coach Rick Sofield said. "Anybody who gets drafted in professional baseball should be very proud of themselves. Only a small few get this opportunity, and I'm sure Dexter will do everything in his power to take advantage of this opportunity."

Seeing Price's name come off the board on the second day of the three-day draft didn't surprise Sand Sharks pitching coach Bryan Lewallyn, who expects the 6-foot-7, 220-pound Price to find success at the professional level.

"First and foremost, he passes what a lot of guys call the eye test," said Lewallyn, who was the pitching coach for the Pensacola Pelicans independent minor league team before coming to USCB last year. "When you look at him, he looks the part. Big, tall, long, arm works well, he's got a free, easy delivery. ... He's shown some arm strength, and as he physically matures and gets a little stronger, there's that potential that his velocity could increase a little bit more."

Lewallyn said Price's fastball hit 92 to 94 mph at times this season, and he also has an effective curveball. The biggest challenge for Price, Lewallyn said, is becoming more consistent with all of his pitches.

The Sand Sharks were also interested in another name that came up Tuesday -- Redan (Ga.) High School shortstop Deion Williams, a signee who was picked in the 16th round by the Washington Nationals. Williams initially signed with Georgia State but later changed his commitment to USCB, Lewallyn said, because he liked Sofield's experience with developing players as a minor league manager.

"He's a great player," Sofield said. "We knew that he was draftable. I don't know where they'll go from here."

Regardless, Sofield is confident the long-term effect of having a player and a recruit drafted will be a positive one.

"For a third-year program, I never thought for a minute that we would be where we're at on any level.

"It's a good thing for the program," he added. "There's no question about that."

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