Weight: 190 lbs
Drafted: 3rd Round in 2001 out of High School
Position: Starting Pitcher
Stuff: Wright used to throw a lot harder, but right now he throws an 89-91 mph two seam fastball. He throws it from a very deceptive three-quarter angle. The fastball has a lot of movement to it and he uses it to get a significant amount of ground ball outs. He also throws a decent changeup, at about 78-80 mph. The changeup has a surprising amount of sink to it which is his go-to pitch. Wright has been trying everything he possibly can to find some sort of successful breaking pitch. He has tried throwing both a conventional 12-6 77-78 mph curveball and a much slower 70 mph loopy curve. Neither has worked with any success.
Command: Wright will never walk people like Carlos Silva. He has average control at best, although he has learned a thing or two about pitching. He constantly pounds the bottom of the strike zone with his two seamer, without a ton of precision. When he misses, he misses out of the zone. He is going to walk 3-4 per 9 innings in the major leagues, which will limit his utility. That said, he manages to get by despite his command problems.
Health: Wright struggled to stay healthy almost immediately after being drafted. He was not able to pitch more than 100 innings from 2002 until 2005. Part of that was ineffectiveness, but Wright suffered from a series of minor growing pains (the kind of thing that are more the norm than completely healthy seasons for young pitchers). His command was significantly worse than present during this time, which prevented him from putting together any effective innings in the lower A ball leagues. His velocity started north of 93 and ended where it presently is today.
Performance: After these years of terrible play, Wright was still a sleeper pick on a lot of people's radars. Lefties get a lot of chances, and Wright still had the stuff to show promise. He put together a decent campaign in Charleston in 2005, posting an ERA of 3.75 in 144 innings. He struck out 110 and walked 69. Wright had found himself a nitch. He allowed a lot of guys to get on base, but was able to succeed by showing an uncanny ability to prevent the extra base hit. His high walk rate prevented him from winning a spot in the crowded Tampa rotation, so Chase was moved to the bullpen. He pitched excellent, posting a 2.53 ERA in 32 innings through June. He then moved back to the bullpen when the demotion of Zach Kroenke opened up a spot. He then did something very special: he posted an ERA of 1.64 in his next 87.2 innings. For the season he struck out 100 while walking 42 in 119.2 innings on the season. Due to this performance, the Yankees could not hide him from the Rule V draft anymore, and he was added to the 40 man roster a few weeks ago.
Comparison: I have never seen a pitcher who fits his description. Maybe you guys can help me out. Bruce Chen doesn't throw a 2 seamer, but he seems as close as it gets.
Outlook: Wright will head to Trenton, where his two pitch combination will be tested by more advanced hitters. From there, he could very well enter the Yankee depth charts in terms of both starting pitching and the major league bullpen.
My Take: Wright is certainly interesting. He didn't miss my top 30 list by much. I am not at all convinced that Wright can remain a starter in the big leagues. He's a lefty, but he has no sort of breaking pitch and walks a ton of batters. That said, I think that he could very well carve out a little niche for himself. He killed lefties in 2006, getting Chien-Ming Wang-like ground ball results (over 3 per air out) and over a strikeout per inning agains them (29 in 24.2 innings against lefties). He gets righties out, but destroys lefties. Left handed starting pitching is a rarity (especially in the Yankee system), so the Yankees may resist the change. His 2007 will determine a lot.
Saturday, December 30, 2006