PORT ST. LUCIE -- In a game in which Class A Advanced 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, made a rehab start 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 left-hander David Price.
Price outdueled Martinez in the Devil Rays' 2-0 win, yielding two hits and striking out nine over six shutout innings.
"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 during his final year at Vanderbilt. He has pitched 11 shutout innings in two starts as a pro.
On Wednesday, the 22-year-old Price retired the first 13 hitters he faced.
"Wow," Martinez said when he found out Price had made just 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 over six innings while throwing in the high 80s, Price's fastball was consistently at 96 and 97 mph. 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