The fifth pick is now officially in and that means it's time to welcome one of Dansby Swanson’s former teammates in talented Vanderbilt right hander Kyle Wright to the Braves organization.
Who is he?
Kyle Wright is a 6’4” 220 pound right handed pitcher from Vanderbilt. He was undrafted out of high school from Buckhorn HS in New Market, Alabama, a school where he played for his father. Wright, and his family, are reportedly huge Braves fans according to Frankie Piliere of D1Baseball.
Where does he rank?
Baseball America: 2nd
Keith Law: 2nd
Talking Chop: 2nd
What did he do in school?
Freshman: 6-1, 1.23 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 58.2 innings, 29 G/3 starts, 5.5 H/9, 3.5 BB/9, 9.5 K/9, 0 HR.
Sophomore: 8-4, 3.09 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 93.1 innings, 16 G/16 starts, 7.9 H/9, 3.1 BB/9, 10.3 K/9, 6 HR.
Junior: 5-6, 3.40 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103.1 innings, 16 G/16 starts, 7.1 H/9, 2.7 BB/9, 10.5 K/9, 3 HR.
Wright was a dominant reliever on the College World Series Champion in 2015, working as a valuable multi-inning reliever and spot starter. He moved into the rotation for the past two years and has just gotten better and better. He does a great job of limiting base runners and isn't a guy who gives up many homers.
Why was he taken fifth?
Wright is a big athletic arm who has stuff, projection, and a feel for pitching. He's also got the body to develop into a durable starter who be your workhorse. His fastball can top out at 97 MPH and earns plus grades. He's got a curve and slider that he uses depending on the handedness of the batter and both of them are above average to plus. The change is the fourth pitch, and he's got some feel for it as well to hopefully become another above average offering. He's also shown improved command as the year went on and the future average grade on his command could tick up.
Wright came into the spring a candidate for the No. 1 or 2 selections and was widely considered the best college arm in the draft. A funny thing happened and he really struggled out of the gate this season, and fell down many people’s rankings to the point he was no longer a lock for the first round. He was even moved from his Friday rotation spot to Saturdays.
That’s when things settled down for him though. Early on he was throwing a lot as hard as he can and the command suffered, leading to walks and hits. Once he took a little something off to be able to hit his spots, he started to dominate again. It's not an uncommon thing for a top prospect to go out and try to do too much in his draft year, and it appears Wright’s struggles were due to that.
How should we feel about him?
I love this pick. Wright may not be an ace, but he's a safe bet to have a long and good big league career as a starter. He has everything needed to be a true No. 2 starter, and should be at least a solid No. 3. Worst case scenario is that he's a No. 4. He's also fairly advanced and could be in Atlanta for good two years from now as we get ready for the 2019 MLB Draft.