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Arizona baseball notebook: Preston Price signs free agent deal with Orioles, Wildcats gain and lose pitchers via transfer portal

arizona-wildcats-baseball-preston-price-orioles-bryce-collins-lsu-chris-barraza-nmsu-2022 Arizona Athletics

One of Arizona’s top relief arms in 2021 has signed a pro contract after going undrafted.

Right-hander Preston Price has signed a free agent deal with the Baltimore Orioles, making him the second UA player to sign a pro contract. First baseman Branden Boissiere, a third-round pick of the Washington Nationals, inked his deal on Thursday.

Price went 1-1 with three saves and a 3.38 ERA in 16 appearances as a senior, striking out 35 batters in 21.1 innings. He missed nearly two months with arm soreness before coming back during the final weekend of the regular season, making three appearances in the postseason including in the College World Series opener against Vanderbilt.

In five seasons with Arizona, Price pitched in 50 games and had 64 Ks over 56 innings.

With the Orioles he’ll potentially be reunited with former UA center fielder Donta’ Williams, whom Baltimore drafted in the fourth round.

Another undrafted UA senior pitcher is still looking for a pro gig. Righty Vince Vannelle, who was 5-3 with a 2.78 ERA and a team-best eight saves this spring, has taken to social media to try and find a team willing to give him a shot.

That approach paid off for Stanford infielder Nick Brueser, who signed with the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday after sharing a YouTube video of his career highlights on Twitter.

Collins transfers to LSU

Bryce Collins, who missed the past two seasons after having Tommy John surgery, is following Jay Johnson to LSU.

Collins, a right-handed pitcher, made seven appearances as a true freshman in 2019 before getting shut down with the arm injury. He was 0-2 with a 5.24 ERA in 22.1 innings, recording 16 strikeouts.

He is the sixth UA player to commit to a different program for 2022 and second to LSU, following freshman slugger Jacob Berry. The others to commit elsewhere are IF Kyson Donahue (Hawaii), RHP German Fajardo (Kansas State), RHP Ryan Kysar (San Diego) and 1B/LHP TJ Curd (Jacksonville).

Wildcats add Barraza from New Mexico State

Chris Barraza, a righty from nearby Sahuarita, has committed to the Wildcats for 2022 after spending the last three seasons at New Mexico State.

Barraza went 1-2 with a 7.25 ERA in six games (five starts) for the Aggies this past season, striking out 22 in 22.1 IP. He was 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA in four starts during the COVID-shortened 2020 season after pitching mostly out of the bullpen in 2019.