Saturday afternoon in Fort Myers, young righty Kyle Wright faced and passed another tough test against the defending World Champion Red Sox. Wright would give up a pair of runs in the bottom of the first on a JD Martinez sac fly and RBI double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts. But, then the 23 year old would settle in and proceed to toss three no-hit innings, with five strikeouts and just one walk. And this was another challenging lineup he would face, with the likes of Pedroia, Betts, Moreland, Martinez, Bogaerts, Holt and Bradley in there, among others. Through four appearances, three have come on the road against playoff caliber competition (Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox).
Through those four appearances, Wright has allowed just four earned runs, walked two and struck out 16. In limited action in the Majors last season, walks were clearly an issue for Wright who surrendered six walks in six innings of work with just five strikeouts. This spring it’s been a much different story for the Vanderbilt product, who is trusting his changeup more and more in 2019. It’s been a pitch he’s been working on since his call-up last season. But, he’s been able to located the fastball with much more consistency and use the heater to set up his devastating change. The slider and curveball have also come a long way in the last calendar year, giving Wright a nice four pitch mix. And based on the reactions from not only Red Sox batters, but also the Yankees Opening Day lineup, Kyle Wright certainly looks ready to start the season in the Majors.
When Wright was drafted, I had a number of folks with the team tell me he was primed to be a fast mover through the Minor League system. Now, while they may not have predicted he’d be competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster less than two years after he was drafted fifth overall in the 2017 Draft, in my opinion, it’s his job to lose. And with uncertainties among the starting rotation when it comes to health, there’s a chance Wright could be lined up to start the Home Opener against the Cubs on April 1. And no, that’s not an early April Fool’s joke.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioN