Improvement can be positive even in the smallest increments. Kyle Wright appears to be more interested in turning things around in a big way.
The Braves' second-ranked prospect delivered the longest outing of his career on Saturday, holding Jackson scoreless over seven innings in Double-A Mississippi's 2-0 victory at The Ballpark of Jackson. He allowed five hits and a walk, striking out five.
Video: Wright fans fifth batter for Mississippi
Wright (2-4) said he had all of his pitches working but controlling the heater was key.
"I think my fastball command was really good and that was what allowed my other pitches to work," he said. "I made some good changeups to kind of keep guys off the fastball."
The lone walk Wright issued came with two outs in the seventh to Marcus Littlewood. But he rebounded to strike out Jason Morozowski and finished his longest outing since the Braves selected him fifth overall in last year's Draft.
Video: Braves' Wright lines single to center
"It's a good feeling knowing I can still pitch that late into a game," Wright said. "I guess it's just like any other time I've ever gone back to pitch. I'm just happy to give my team a chance to win and hopefully save the bullpen arms a bit."
Heading into the at-bat against Morozowski, Wright assumed it was likely his last chance to get through seventh.
"I had a feeling it was probably my last hitter," he said. "I think that was me ... really wanting to get the full seven."
Above all, Wright did not want to force manager Chris Maloney to go to the bullpen in the middle of an inning. The right-hander also wanted to use fanning Morozowski as a confidence-builder
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"It was a big strikeout for me, moving forward," he said.
MLB.com's No. 28 overall prospect set the Generals down in order in the first and retired eight in a row at one point, a streak that ended when Kevin Medrano reached on an infield single with one out in the sixth. He credited the quick first with giving him leeway through the middle innings when the Generals generated baserunners.
Wright threw 66 of a season-high 101 pitches for strikes. He induced nine ground-ball outs.
"I just tried to simplify a little bit," the Alabama native said. "I think in previous starts I'd kind of been a little too fine, try to make the perfect pitches. Whereas tonight, I was looking to where I was trying to throw it and then just letting it go. Whatever happened, happened. I think it allowed me to make better pitches and throw more strikes."
It was certainly a bounce-back effort for the Vanderbilt product. Over his previous three starts, he allowed 13 earned runs over 16 1/3 innings. On Saturday, the right-hander lowered his ERA from 4.94 to 4.03.
"I think [this performance] helps me knowing what I need to do, and how to pitch, moving forward," he said. "For me, myself, [I] was trying to be too fine. Sometimes as a pitcher you just have to trust your stuff and see what happens. ... That's kind of what I gotta get back to."
Wright had polled teammates and coaches over the last couple of weeks to help pinpoint a potential cause of his struggles. The consensus was for him to lean more on his natural ability and let the rest take care of itself.
"It was just a mental reminder to get back to what I'm used to doing," he said.
The night helped the 22-year-old realize his professional development was moving along, even if the results haven't always been there.
"It's just good to see how far I'm coming far in pro ball and just how I'm getting used to the five-day rotation," he said.
Wright also has noticed his recovery time between starts has dwindled throughout the season.
"I think the more that I go deeper into games, the more I'll allow myself to really prepare myself for a heavier workload every fifth day," he said.
Corbin Clouse worked a clean eighth and Jacob Webb pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to finish off Mississippi's fourth shutout of the season.
The Braves got run-scoring singles from No. 14 prospect Alex Jackson and Daniel Lockhart in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively. Wright also got it done at the plate, lining a single to center in the fifth and drawing a leadoff walk in the seventh.