Daniel Wright doesn't expect to blow hitters away on stuff alone, but when he flashes his signature command and finds his groove, he's tough to solve.
The right-handed Reds prospect struck out a career-high 11 batters over seven innings as Class A Advanced Bakersfield blanked Visalia, 5-0, on Thursday night at Recreation Park. He allowed four hits and didn't walk a batter.
Making his seventh start for the Blaze, Wright (5-1) went seven innings for the third time in his California League stay. The right-hander faced just one over the minimum through his first six innings.
"I was able to keep the ball down," Wright said. "[Catcher] Yovan Gonzalez had a good game plan coming in from last night. He thought he knew how to pitch them, and I just threw the pitches that he called and kept the ball down. It worked out.
"Anything that he puts down, I throw it in the spot where he puts the glove. I had good stuff, so I got some swings-and-misses. As the game went on, I realized I was striking out a few, but I didn't realize how many I had until I got out of the game and somebody told me."
The Arkansas State product found himself in the lead in the fourth inning when Juan Perez singled home Sebastian Elizalde. One inning later, the Blaze added four more runs, three on Sean Buckley's third homer of the season.
Throughout his start, Wright littered his line with strikeouts. The 23-year-old fanned at least one batter in each of his seven innings and kept his rhythm despite an elevated pitch number.
"You have to go deeper into some counts," he said. "Guys are fouling off pitches, and obviously, you're not getting the first-pitch groundouts and things like that. You have to work a little bit more when you strike people out rather than getting groundouts. You just try to keep the same rhythm as always and throw the pitches he puts down."
Through 87 2/3 innings between Class A Dayton and Bakersfield, Wright has struck out 80 batters while walking just 12. Over his last two outings, the 2013 10th-round pick has fanned 20 while issuing just two free passes.
"It's huge for me, because I don't have the best fastball or best offspeed pitches," he said. "I live and die by command. I have to command the ball, or I'm going to get hit around a little bit like I have a couple times in this league. Especially with hitters in this league, they'll make you pay for leaving balls up or out over the plate. You've just got to keep the ball down and hit your spots."
Wright bested No. 2 D-backs prospect Braden Shipley to earn the win. Shipley (1-3) was charged with five runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six over five innings.