Coming into the 2017 MLB draft, many experts thought Kyle Wright would be gone before the Atlanta Braves‘ selection at #5. Braves scouting director Brian Bridges thought Wright would be off the board: “It’s far-fetched when you get the guy who is still on the board who shouldn’t still be on the board who is advanced for his age,” Bridges said. But on draft night, his name remained on the board until the Braves’ pick, allowing the Braves to select the RHP from Vanderbilt University. Wright, undrafted out of high school, developed tremendously at Vanderbilt, as he produced a 3.40 ERA with 121 strikeouts and only 31 walks as the ace of the Commodores.
Wright joins many of his former teammates and Commodores in the pros, including Dansby Swanson, the #1 pick in 2015 out of Vanderbilt who is the starting shortstop for the Atlanta Braves. Vanderbilt has produced pitchers in the MLB such as Red Sox LHP David Price, A’s RHP Sonny Gray, White Sox RHP Carson Fulmer, and many other recently drafted pitchers in Minor League Baseball. Wright is the 4th highest draftee coming out of Vanderbilt since 2007, behind Dansby Swanson (#1 overall), David Price (#1 overall), and Pedro Alvarez (#2 overall). In those ten years, Vanderbilt baseball, led by head coach Tim Corbin, has gone 501-220, including a national championship in 2014.
Wright possesses a mid-to-high 90’s fastball, as he averages around 93-MPH but can reach up to 97-98 MPH if needed, along with a wipeout curveball and a swing-and-miss slider. He also has a developing changeup. Not only does Wright possess potential ace stuff, he also has the frame of a potential ace, standing at 6’5″ and weight 215 pounds.
Playing at Vanderbilt for three years, Wright has a very high floor due to his experience, but also a huge ceiling due to his size, plus stuff, and plus velocity. Wright also has no previous injury experience.
Wright, a college pitcher, may have a quick path through the minor leagues before he reaches the big leagues. Playing in the SEC should give Wright an easier road to the show. Former TCU pitcher Brandon Finnegan was drafted and made his debut in 2014 at age 21 (Wright’s age). That will most likely not happen for the Braves, since the Royals (the team who drafted Finnegan), were playing for a postseason spot and needed help out of the bullpen. Wright’s former Vandy teammate, Carson Fulmer, also took a speedy route to the bigs, as he appeared for the White Sox a year after he was drafted.
Wright will join the loaded Braves farm system, which has extreme talent everywhere, including the 2016 #3 pick Ian Anderson in High-A Rome, 2015 draftees Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka in Double-A Mississippi, and 2012 first round pick Lucas Sims in Triple-A Gwinnett. Wright will have to pitch extremely well in the minors to pass all the Braves’ prospects on his way to the MLB. Wright adds another big arm to the Atlanta farm system, and as John Hart, Braves executive, said, “You can never have enough pitchers.”