Braves add Wright to 'pen for playoff push

No. 2 prospect promoted after seven appearances at Triple-A

Kyle Wright was 8-9 with a 3.46 ERA and 133 strikeouts over 138 innings across two Minor League levels. (Bob Chadwick/MiLB.com)

By Chris Bumbaca / MiLB.com | September 1, 2018 7:45 PM

Fifteen months after he was drafted fifth overall, Braves No. 2 prospect Kyle Wright was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett to join the big league bullpen for the stretch drive.

"We knew when they drafted him that it wouldn't take him long to get here," Braves manager Brian Snitker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It'll be interesting. I'm anxious to see him pitch."

Wright began the season with Double-A Mississippi, where he was 6-8 with a 3.70 ERA and 105 strikeouts over 109 1/3 innings in 20 starts. The Braves promoted the 22-year-old to the Stripers on July 30 and he went 2-1 with a 2.51 ERA in seven appearances, including four starts, with the club. 

The right-hander made his last start for Gwinnett on Aug. 19, when he allowed two earned runs over seven innings against Buffalo. Since then, the Braves shifted him to a bullpen role -- similar to the Yankees' recent usage of their top prospect, Justus Sheffield, with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre -- to better prepare him for the stretch run. 

"Anything is possible," Snitker told the newspaper. "But right now, we just foresee him coming out of the bullpen.

"It's his first full year of pro ball. But people were under the impression last year when we drafted him that he probably would've fit in on this club then. I think it was more, this year, getting him acclimated to the professional routine and things like that. Very talented young man."

Video: Gwinnett's Wright strikes out the side

Wright delivered scoreless frames in all three of his relief outings and never required more than 16 pitches to get three outs. He struck out one in each appearance. 

After a standout career at Vanderbilt, coupled with the Braves' aggressive mind-set in promoting their top talent, it's not too much of a surprise that Wright already has reached the Majors. Nonetheless, it's a dream come true for the Alabama native.

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"It's something you dream about, but for it to actually happen is pretty crazy," he said. "For it to happen so quick, I never really expected it."

Triple-A opponents batted .152 against Wright, who posted a 0.81 WHIP in the International League. MLB.com's No. 24 overall prospect cited a renewed concentration on attacking hitters instead of worrying about his repertoire, which features a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup -- all of which are rated as plus pitches.

"I pitched a lot better and I've been more efficient, pitch deeper into ballgames," the ninth-ranked right-handed pitching prospect said. "But at first, early in the year, I wasn't very efficient. Just giving up too many runs early, too many walks early. Ever since I attacked better, I've pitched a lot better, gone deeper in ballgames and given the team a chance to win." 

Chris Bumbaca is a contributor for MiLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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