The Price was right this year
Two years ago in his second season as a reliever Bryan Price was approached by then Double-A Akron pitching coach Greg Hibbard and was asked, “What’s going to separate you from other right handed relievers?”
Price’s answer was his split finger and this past season it proved to be a separator for him.
Price entered the Indians system in July of 2009 after being dealt to the Indians from the Boston Red Sox along with Justin Masterson and Clippers teammate Nick Hagdone.
Injuries plagued the righty reliever while climbing through the Indians' farm system. Price has strained his rotator cuff four times and suffered a torn labrum. The injuries have forced him to miss time in multiple seasons and have ultimately stalled him as a prospect.
However, Price’s health issues are no longer something that he continues to battle with.
“I’ve struggled with some health issues and I feel like I’m finally overcoming all that," Price said. "My shoulder’s feeling better than it has in quite awhile. I’m pretty pleased with the year.”
After being trapped in Akron for two full seasons from 2010-2011, then splitting the 2012 season between Akron and Columbus, it seems things finally started coming together for Price in 2013 where he started the season in Akron, but was briskly moved to the Columbus bullpen.
“I struggled when I first got here and since then I’ve had a pretty good two and a half months I would say," Price said. "I think in the long run it will all play out, hopefully.”
While in Columbus Price’s fastball touched 95 mph and averaged around 93 MPH.
“I like to sit at 92, 93, the occasional 94, my ball has more movement there," Price explained. "I really rely on that. I like to sink the ball a lot and that’s really what I go for.”
The real difference in Price as a pitcher has been the development of his splitter. Although Price is comfortable with his slider the addition of the splitter to his arsenal has made all the difference. During the 2013 season Price was finally able to get comfortable throwing the splitter as prior to this past season he would maybe only throw it a single time in an outing. Now, Price likes to mix it in anywhere from five to ten times each outing.
“I really felt like I got a good feel for it and I’ve been throwing it a lot more," Price said. "That’s really what’s kind of changed everything. It really has changed the way I’ve pitched and attack hitters and I kind of owe that to a few guys. I have more weapons to go at them with.”
With the plethora of pitches he now has to offer Price has been able to be more effective against batters.
“Some nights my split’s better, some nights my slider’s better," Price said. "Lefties, I typically attack them with my split more and righties with my slider more, but some nights one’s just a lot better than the other."
Something Price still struggles with is getting hit hard by batters when they are able to get a hold of the righty. When batters do make contact 39% of the hits are considered hard.
“I’m not afraid of batters, so I typically go for contact and a lot of times when I’m pitching for contact I’m using my fastball because I’m behind in the count or its 2-1, 3-1 and I’m trying to get back into it," Price said. "Giving up a hit to me is better than giving up a walk and therefore I might as well go right at them.”
Giving up walks is something that Price struggled with in the past, but he has been able to put his control issues behind him in 2013. Price pitched a total of 69.2 innings in 2012 between Akron and Columbus, giving up 24 walks for the season. Working on that this season Price pitched 75.0 innings total between the two clubs and dropped his walks down to 16.
Price made great strides in 2013 and was able to put forth a stellar season, but was left out as a September call up to Cleveland this year. Cleveland’s bullpen was full after callups leaving no room for Price.
But Price has made his mark and will remain with the Indians through 2014, where he will be able to make a run next season for his Major League debut.