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2017 Phillies Draft Preview: Kyle Wright, RHP

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NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Vanderbilt vs Virginia Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Wright is a 6’4" 220 lbs Starter for Vanderbilt. At 21 and a few days change he’s a little on the young side for a College Junior and may have a little more projection in the tank than other College players, as he still has frame to add good weight. Wright has a 4-pitch mix and, up until this year, pretty good command of them. His primary pitch is a low-mid 90’s 2-seamer (has gone as high as 97, per reports, but typically sits 91-93 with it), a high 80’s cutter, a change-up that needs some work, but should be playable and a Knuckle-Curve (like a Knckleball, it gripped with the fingertips only, but unlike the knuckler, it isn’t pressed into the palm and you snap your wrist to generate spin).

I’ll start with Wright’s Fastball. Reports have the pitch a bit all over the place in terms of velocity. Some starts it’s mostly 90-91 other it sits 92-94. That’s not entirely unusual for a Pitcher to have good stuff one night and just be off occasionally on other, but 92-94 is a Plus pitch 90-91 is fringy 5th Starter territory, so it will be important for teams to have him well scouted and confident where he’s more likely to wind up sitting. Also, as I said above, Wright can probably carry another 10-15 good pounds of weight, so perhaps that added strength gets him sitting 93-95 more consistently (though size and Fastball speed aren’t necessarily correlated that closely, so you need to be comfortable with where he is on draft day). I’ll talk more about it shortly when we look mechanics, but control comes and goes a bit (as it does for most every College Pitcher).

Wright’s breaking material consists of the very good, easy Plus, Curve, which he throws with his grip on one seam, allowing for a little more ability to create some horizontal break to go with the vertical break. That’s not to say it’s slurvy, per se, but if he can harness that horizontal break better he can dance the pitch a bit more to make it harder for hitters to anticipate. His Cutter/Slider doesn’t break especially hard, but it has enough late cut to ride in on the hands of Righties. When his Fastball is in the 93-94 range, the Cutter works well, but when his Fastball is in the 90-91 range his 86-89 mph Cutter is a little too close in speed and loses some effect.

The Change-up is a work in progress. For a College Pitcher, it’s average, but for a pro, it’s probably in the 40-45 range. Most reports project it to Average. It better get there though, because without it being average he’s probably a #3/4 starter who flashes occasional dominance. If it does develop and his control/command tightens up, his ceiling is probably #3 Starter, maybe low end #2 Starter.

Now to the video and a look at his mechanics. This video is from Fangraphs and is a 2017 start. You can see his release point dance a little around the 2:20 mark through the rest of that minute. He gets out of the jam, with a well placed cutter. At the 3:30 mark you see the best Curveball of the bunch. Hitter doesn’t bite and it’s just outside, but it’s the best view of the movement I saw in the video. At the 4:00 minute you briefly see the worst Curve of the video, which then goes several hundred feet in the other direction. After the Dinger, at least in what’s on this video, his release goes on a mini vacation. This includes a pitch just after the 5-minute mark that’s almost sidearm. It’s not isolated either, as nearly every reports notes that Wright’s biggest flaw is consistency. Some night’s he looks like he should go first overall, others he look like a mid-late first round guy.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Wright repeats everything else in his delivery well. His landing foot faces Home quite consistently, he’s well balanced for the most part (though I have seen some clips where he does get a bit out of balance looking and more falls to the first base side in his follow through. It doesn’t get mentioned in reports I’ve read, so I trust it’s not common. Perhaps Andrew VU 04 can chime in on that in the comments). Now, release point is something even seasoned pros can struggle with, so I don’t want to downplay the risk there, but Wright repeats everything else so reliably, I feel optimistic he can refine the control well enough to be a reliable #3 Starter.

Perhaps to some spending a top 10 pick on a #3 Starter is a bit like kissing your sister, but a #3 Starter is still a pretty valuable commodity. Additionally I often fell like Pitchers can surprise (both good and bad) more than hitting prospects. A tweaked grip, a fluke change during a bullpen session or any number of seemingly minor events can change a guy’s profile. I’m comfortable with a #3 Starter, I’m reasonably comfortable Wright can become that, but as I’ve said a lot here, I’m prone to gamble a bit in the draft and would still prefer Houck or Greene or someone with a #1 ceiling possible.