PORT ST. LUCIE - In a game in which Class A players were supposed to be in awe of a three-time Cy Young Award winner taking the mound, Pedro Martinez was marveling at his opponent.
Martinez, who is recovering from a strained left hamstring, participated in a rehab start on Wednesday with the St. Lucie Mets before joining the big league club for his second start of the season on Tuesday. But Martinez came out of the game impressed with the guy pitching for the opposing Vero Beach Devil Rays -- 6-foot-4 lefty David Price.
Price outdueled Martinez in a 2-0 win for the Devil Rays, pitching six shutout innings while giving up two hits and striking out nine.
"He's amazing, that kid. He's amazing," Martinez said. "That kid is very mature for his time in [the pros], and very talented.
"Oh my God. God bless him and keep him healthy."
Price was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft after notching a Division I-leading 194 strikeouts his final year at Vanderbilt. Price has now recorded nine straight shutout innings as a pro in two starts. On Wednesday, Price retired the first 13 hitters he faced in order.
"Wow," Martinez said when he found out Price has only made one previous start since being drafted. "He's a big lefty with superb talent. At that age, I don't think I was like that. He seems far superior."
While Martinez allowed two runs in six innings while throwing in the high 80s, the much younger Price was consistently at 96 to 97 mph with his fastball. But Martinez took specific note at how Price approached hitters.
"That kid did a hell of a job of throwing first-pitch strikes and pounding the strike zone and jamming hitters," Martinez said. "I was watching that. He did it like a big leaguer. He had such a command. Right there, I'm challenging you. I'm going to do what I gotta do without any fear. That's the kind of talent you love to see."
A compliment like that holds a lot of weight when it's coming from a guy who's recorded 209 wins and sports a 2.81 ERA in his career.
"That's definitely a big compliment coming from Pedro Martinez. That definitely does mean a lot to me," Price said. "Hopefully I could face him in the big leagues one day."
Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.