2019 was a forgettable season for Kyle Wright, as he took a step back and not just in his short MLB stint; Wright was nowhere near as effective in AAA as he had been in 2018. Aside from his 8.69 ERA and 1.881 WHIP in 19.2 MLB innings, he had a 4.17 ERA and 1.264 WHIP in 112.1 AAA innings. Many people thought Wright was rushed through the system, as he had only thrown 28.1 AAA innings prior to starting 2019 in the Braves rotation. In addition to that, 2018 was Wright’s first full year in the system and he managed to earn a September call up. Wright pitched 3 seasons at Vanderbilt and was the fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft so he had more experience than many minor leaguers, but still followed a very fast track to the majors.
The good news for Wright, he still has all the potential in
the world. He finished the season ranked as MLB Pipeline’s #35 prospect and
with four plus pitches he has a very good shot to compete for a spot in the
Braves rotation. Another positive, he seemed to figure something out around
mid-June, as in his last 13 starts of the year he held a 3.30 ERA in 76.1 AAA
innings. Wright’s curveball is his best off-speed pitch, but if he can find a
bit more consistency with his slider it could wind up becoming a deadly pitch.
A part of Wright’s problem thus far could be his fastball usage. He has above
average off-speed pitches, but he throws his fastball more than 50% of the
time. This leads to a lot of hard-hit balls, creating a lot of hits and runs.
A Potential Trade?
Will Wright even be a Brave come Opening Day? With the Braves plethora of pitching prospects and holes at third base, catcher and the top of the rotation, Wright could find himself on the move this offseason. If I had to guess, I would say Wright or Wilson are the most likely pitching prospects to be traded. While both have seen the majors, Anderson is more highly regarded with Muller, Davidson, and others not far behind. If the Braves want to make a big trade without moving Pache, Waters or Anderson, the package would probably have to start with Wright.
What will 2020 Wright do?
Assuming he isn’t moved, he will join a large group of prospects to fight for a spot in the rotation to start the season. While he proved last Spring Training that he deserved a spot, this is a new year. I would give Wright the highest odds, but Wilson or Newcomb could also win the spot with Ian Anderson as a dark horse candidate. Another option for Wright would be to provide bullpen help, possibly as the long-relief option; think 2018 Max Fried. AA has stated that he wants to add at least one veteran starter, so it looks like the fifth spot will be up for grabs for a young guy to step up and prove themselves, similarly to last season.