Feb 20, 2023: Kyle Wright’s right shoulder feels better than it did during any of the past three seasons. Wright is 'whole, healthy and fresh' after a shoulder injection.
But the Braves right-hander is gradually making up for time lost in January, when he halted his normal preparations for three weeks following a cortisone injection.
“Most of the guys during the offseason have to get over that hump to get going again, I just couldn’t get there,” Wright said. “Then once I [got the injection and rested] I was like, ‘Wow, this is how it’s supposed to feel.'”
The good news is Wright’s shoulder feels better and stronger than it did while he constructed MLB’s only 20-win season last year. The reality is he is slightly behind schedule after having to restart his throwing program just a couple weeks ago. The Braves have mapped out a plan for Wright to be ready for the start of the regular season. But to ensure the 27-year-old hurler’s preparations aren’t rushed, he likely won’t make any starts during the first couple weeks of the If Wright can make at least three starts during the exhibition season, he’ll have a chance to get his pitch count to approximately 60. This would create an opportunity for him to be lined up to throw approximately 75-80 pitches in his regular season debut.
Instead of making his debut during the three-game, season-opening series at Nationals Park, he might make it a few days later, when the Braves end a two-city road trip in St. Louis. The key is he’s not expected to begin the season on the injured list.
“I’m just building strength back up,” Wright said. “It’s kind of a blessing in disguise to almost hit the reset button. You start from square one and start strengthening the right things.”
"I feel whole, healthy and fresh again for the first time since about 2020,” Wright said. “It’s nice. You forget what it’s supposed to feel like because you’re just kind of used to it. So far, I feel great. I’m excited about hopefully keeping the same feeling my whole career.”
Wright entered 2022 with a 6.56 ERA through 14 career starts and there was reason to wonder if he’d ever live up to the expectations set when the Braves selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft.
Wright lessened concerns as he tallied 21 wins, posted a 3.19 ERA and then legitimized his regular season success by tossing six scoreless innings in a Game 2 win over the Phillies during the National League Division Series.
“Until they go through it, they’re just pulling the layers off to become a successful Major Leaguer,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I saw him do that last year. I think he knows a little bit more now about himself and who he is.”
How did Wright find himself? Well, he essentially ditched the slider he used too frequently the previous two seasons and made the curveball his primary pitch. He used the curve 14.3 percent of the time in 2021 and 34.1 percent in 2022. Opponents continued to have success against his four-seamer, but he used it less frequently and made his two-seamer (sinker) the second most-used pitch of his arsenal. But Wright’s greatest strides may have been made from a mental perspective. Braves mental performance coach Zach Sorensen has helped Wright gain a stronger perspective with a practice called "Well, Better, How?"
“It‘s really the best way to evaluate outings,” Wright said. “So I look at what did I do well? How am I going to do it better? And how am I going to do it? That has allowed me to move on from outings, whether it's a good start or a bad start.
“I take what I need to take from the game and then move on. Whereas before, I'd always kind of struggle with holding on to things for too long, taking bad outings into the next one, and then things just kind of spiral.”
Wright spent last year building his confidence and he took time this winter to address a cranky shoulder. It might be challenging to produce a second straight 20-win season. But the revitalized hurler is positioned to improve.
“There’s a lot of things I can clean up to be even better this year,” Wright said. “That’s my goal.”(MBowman - MLB.com - Feb 20, 2023)
|Birth City:||Huntsville, AL|
|Draft:||Braves #1 - 2017 - Out of Vanderbilt Univ. (TN)|
In 2014, Wright graduated from Buckhorn High School in in New Market, Alabama. His dad, Roger, was his high school coach. Kyle then headed off to honor his commitment to Vanderbilt.
Kyle is the son of Roger and Belinda Wright. He has two brothers, Mitchell and Trey. Mitchell pitched at Alabama-Huntsville.
Favorites include: Miguel Cabrera (baseball player), Atlanta Braves (team), Division 3 Football’s Finest and Billy Madison (movies), The Walking Dead and Family Guy (TV shows), Adam Sandler (actor), burrito bowl from Chipotle (favorite meal), Kid Cudi, Gucci and Billy Currington (music).
Says Channing Tatum would play him in a movie. And uses friendly as the one word to describe himself.
At Vanderbilt, Wright majored in American Studies.
In 2015, Kyle pitched out of the Vandy bullpen and was lights-out, posting a 1.23 ERA in 59 innings with a 62/23 K/BB, allowing a mere 36 hits.
As a sophomore in 2016, he moved into the rotation, going 8-4, 3.09 ERA in 16 starts with a 107/32 K/BB in 93 innings.
His 2017 collegiate season was inconsistent, but he was more effective later in the spring.
June 2017: Wright was the Braves first round pick (#5 overall), out of Vanderbilt University. Braves' scout Dustin Evans signed Kyle for an over-slot bonus of $7 million. (Slot was $5,707,300.)
July 2018: Kyle represented Atlanta in the All-Star Futures game.
September 2018: Wright's MLB debut made him the first player from the 2017 draft to reach the big leagues.
In 2018, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Wright as he 4th-best prospect in the Braves organization. They had them at #4 again in both 2019 and 2020.
- 2021 Season: Wright is stuck in a nether world of the 4A player for now. He got two starts in the majors this year and allowed seven runs in just 6.1 innings. That raised his MLB ERA to 6.56 in 70 innings. His Triple-A ERA for this season was 3.34.
Wright became the first pitcher in Major League Baseball to win 20 games this season after allowing two earned runs in 5.1 innings in the Braves' 6-3 victory over the Phillies.
The 26-year-old's success is yet another illustration of Atlanta's player development that has been so good in recent years.
"I don't know if I realized how cool it was until my teammates and coaches congratulated me real quick afterward," Wright told reporters after the game. "It's a team stat, and I couldn't have done it without them scoring runs and playing defense." (Wells-BleacherReport-Sep 24, 2022)
Wright has a 94-98 mph FASTBALL that he can either CUT or sink, but mostly has nice arm-side run with a 60 grade
He also has an 83-85 mph SLIDER, with late life and occasional that grades 55. His curve and slider can morph into the same slurvy pitch. And he has an 84-87 mph CHANGEUP that flashes 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale when he throws it often. The bottom drops out on that change.
Even during his uneven stints with Atlanta, Wright has shown the repertoire to succeed as a big league starter. He still has four pitches that can get big league hitters out. He maintains his four-seam fastball with high velo, and that's not just in short stints. He can sink his two-seamer to get ground-ball outs, as well. He throws both a slider and a curve, leaning much more heavily on the former, and his changeup gives him a fourth at least above-average offering that he throws with good deception and movement.
The biggest thing holding Wright back, especially in his time in the big leagues, has been his command. There are no glaring mechanical issues that point to the problems he has and the organization believes with his delivery, he should look more consistently like the guy who walked 2.8 per nine in Triple-A than the guy who had trouble finding the strike zone in Atlanta. He might be more of a mid-rotation type, when all is said and done, than the frontline guy some saw at Draft time. (Spring 2020)
He has 50 grade Control 2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 51
He has 50 grade Control
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 51
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 42.4% of the time, his Sinker 11.3%; Change 9.1%; Slider 25.7%; and Curveball 11.5% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.9 mph, Sinker 93.9, Change 86, Slider 87, and Curve 80.7 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 15.5% of the time, his Sinker 31.6%; Change 14.1%; Slider 24%; and Curveball 14.8% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 95 mph, Sinker 94.2, Change 87.7, Slider 88.4, and Curve 82.6 mph.
2022 Season Pitch Usage/Avg In 2017, when the Braves made Wright the No
2022 Season Pitch Usage/Avg. Velo: Curve 34.4% - 84.7 mph; Sinker 24% - 94.3 mph; Fastball 20% - 95 mph; Change 15% - 88 mph; Slider 7% - 90 mph.
In 2017, when the Braves made Wright the No
Kyle is a big righthander. He has a clean arm action. He spots his heater on either side of the plate with decent command. And he also commands his curve pretty well. His command improves when he's pitching in the lower range of his velocity, below say, 95 mph. He repeats his delivery well. But Wright needs improved command. When Wright is locked in, he throws four 55 grade (or better) pitches for strikes.
Wright cannot be rattled on the mound. He is poise personified. He knows how to make a plan and go out and institute it.
Kyle appears to be a durable righthander with a low-maintenance delivery and clean mechanics.
Wright is going to be a #2 or #3 starter in The Show.
2018 season: Wright pitched across two levels (AA, AAA) where he went 8-9 with a 3.91 ERA, 1.225 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, and 3.3 BB/9. He went on to make his major league debut and pitched in four games in the regular season where he had a 4.50 ERA, 1.667 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, and 9.0 BB/9 in six innings.
2019 Improvements: As Wright has proven to be the most impressive pitcher in Braves camp this year, he has benefited from the new and improved cutter he developed with assistance from former Vanderbilt University teammate Walker Buehler.
“I’m just really throwing it and trusting it,” Wright said. “Sometimes, last year, I would really try to manipulate it and get around on it. So I’d spin it, but it was down and away and not a very competitive pitch. I learned how Walker Buehler throws his. He just pulls it across his arm. So ever since I’ve just thought fastball and just gotten extended out there, it’s been a much better break and a lot harder too.” (Mark Bowman-MLB.com-March 11, 2019)
2019 Season: Wright was one of the prospects that made his mark last spring, earning a spot in the Opening Day rotation and debuting as a starter on Sunday Night baseball against the Phillies. That’s how high the Braves were on him. Although, part of the reason he made the roster was because of the injuries to Mike Soroka, Kevin Gausman, and Mike Foltynewicz.
Still, Atlanta thought he was on the cusp of forcing their hand and earning a permanent place in the rotation. However, a rough patch to begin the season followed by even more discouraging signs in AAA, left many wondering if Wright was ever going to live up to the billing of a top-five pick.
The Vanderbilt standout bounced back in the second half of the season, though, and still possesses the pitch mix to make it as a top of the rotation option, which he was beginning to show in Spring Training once again. Yes, the sample size is small, but Wright was electric, striking out 15 batters in 13.1 innings and allowing just three earned runs.
There aren’t too many pitchers out there throwing high-90s heat and biting off 90 mph sliders. Alex Anthopoulos said that the final two spots in the rotation were coming down to Wright, Newcomb, and Hernandez. (Chase Irle - April 6, 2020)
2020 Projections: With the fifth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, the Braves took right-handed pitcher Kyle Wright out of Vanderbilt University.
I love Tim Corbin and the program he's created at Vanderbilt University. Over the years he's helped develop some of the best pitchers in the country and a lot of them have gone on to do great things at the next level.
Kyle Wright was supposed to be one of the best ever
Kyle Wright was supposed to be one of the best ever. I've gone on record as saying that I never saw it with Wright at Vanderbilt, at least not in his junior year when he went into that season with so much hype. He lacked consistency and just didn't have that edge to him like other pitchers that have come out of Vandy like David Price, Mike Minor, Sonny Gray, and Walker Buehler.
But no one could deny the stuff, and so the Braves took a chance on him with a very high draft pick. Again, I was never high on him, and after his first 25.2 innings in the big leagues I felt a little justified. But now it's almost like people are overlooking him and casting him off as a future back-of-the-rotation starter at best. Maybe that's why my attitude towards him has shifted into thinking he could still become a future ace.
Wright came into spring training hoping to earn a spot in the starting rotation, and while we know spring training stats and performances can be misleading, one could argue Wright was the best starting pitcher in camp. He had a 2.03 ERA in 13.1 innings with 15 strikeouts and just 3 walks. And honestly, as I've pointed out on here before, Wright really started to turn a corner the second half of 2019 in Triple-A. Go look at his numbers if you don't already know, they're pretty incredible.
It looked like he was carrying that success into this season and I really think it was (and still could be) a breakout year for him. If OOTP simulation is to be trusted, they think so as well. Right now his simulated stats for the 2020 season look like this: 6 GS, 1.82 ERA, 5 QS, 34.2 IP, 19 H, 15 BB, 7 ER, 35 K, 0.98 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, and 9.1 K/9.
Other than the BB/9 being a little high, I'll take those numbers from Kyle Wright. But the other thing that got me thinking about Kyle Wright as a potential future ace for the Braves is the video game MLB The Show. I've been grinding this game since it came out as it coincided with baseball being shutdown.
Recently they released a "Future Stars" card for every MLB team and Kyle Wright was the player they chose for the Braves. The stats they gave him on this card are ridiculous and instantly make him one of the best starting pitchers in the game. They have him throwing a fastball that tops out at 96 MPH, a sinker at 94 MPH, a slider at 87 MPH, a curveball at 80 MPH, and a changeup at 82 MPH. He has the ability to live up to that fifth overall pick, the only issue in the big leagues has been his command with a 6.7 BB/9 with the Braves.
If he can get that under control, we could see the 24-year-old blossom into a frontline starter—if not a flat out ace—for the Braves as soon as 2021
If he can get that under control, we could see the 24-year-old blossom into a frontline starter—if not a flat out ace—for the Braves as soon as 2021. For 2020, I think he does have that breakout season and could be the difference for the Braves in short season and in the playoffs. (Jake Mastroianni - April 27, 2020)
2020 Season: Taken fifth overall in the 2017 MLB draft Kyle was a bit of surprise for the Braves as the lauded righty was at one point projected to be the top player in the draft. With an up-and-down final season with Vanderbilt, the Braves quickly nabbed the pitcher after he fell because of his pitchability, talent, and ceiling. Unfortunately for Kyle and the Braves it has not led to the best results in the majors and with a clear path to the starting rotation, Kyle fumbled the opportunity. There is still much to like about him and the Braves will give him every opportunity to realize his lofty potential.
What went right in 2020?
With just eight total starts in 2020 it’s very tough to judge him for his body of work
What went right in 2020?
With just eight total starts in 2020 it’s very tough to judge him for his body of work. But not much went right for Kyle. Kyle did have four strong starts out of those eight culminating with a masterful performance against the New York Mets that gave everyone the hope that he may be turning that corner. That September 20 performance saw Kyle pitch 6.1 innings of one-hit baseball with one walk and six strikeouts. Kyle was totally in sync for all of that start and showed the world what he could do but all of that confidence unfortunately taken from him in that disastrous start in the playoffs against the Dodgers.
What went wrong in 2020?
Much like the rest of his professional career Kyle continued to struggle with the mental aspect of games often coming apart on the mound when facing adversity. This resulted in him losing starts during the regular season and all together going 2-4 in eight starts with a 5.21 ERA, 5.90 FIP, 7.11 K/9, and 5.68 BB/9. For someone with such elite talent, he has struggled to put it together on the mound. (Gaurav Vedak@gvedak - Nov 11, 2020)
2021 Season: The righty has a 6.56 ERA in 70 big league innings with a 1.69 WHIP — brutal.
But he really seemed to turn a corner in the second half of the season in Gwinnett with a 2.43 ERA in August and 2.81 ERA in September.
And then he pitched 5.2 innings in the World Series, allowing just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 3 walks with 6 strikeouts, including a brilliant 4.2 innings in Game 4. (Jake Mastroianni - Nov. 15, 2021)
2022 Season: 2022 was a different story entirely for Kyle Wright, and it could not have come at a better time. Ian Anderson regressed in 2022 enough to the point that he was sent back down to AAA for the remainder of the season, Charlie Morton had a down year by his standards, and Mike Soroka had a setback in his rehab.
Wright had an ERA of 3
Wright had an ERA of 3.19, which was 27 percent better than league average in terms of ERA+, 1.159 WHIP, a 3.28 SO/W ratio, and 3.6 WAR. He also led the league in Wins.
A lot of this improvement can be attributed to his approach. Kyle Wright has changed his pitch selection and is now throwing his curveball at the highest rate of his career, while cutting back on his four-seamer and slider (which acts more as a cutter anyway). His slider was pitched at the lowest rate of his career which was probably for the best.
Partly due to this pitch selection change, and that he now has more vertical and horizontal movement on three different pitches, his groundball rate has sky-rocketed. His average launch angle against him was only 4 degrees, which is due to hitters hitting on top of the ball 40.3 percent of the time. For reference, the league average since 2018 (when Kyle Wright debuted) has been 33.0 percent.
His groundball rate shot up to 55.5 percent of the time in 2022. His next highest season was 46.5 percent. For reference, the league average rate since 2018 has been 44.9 percent. This lower average launch angle and higher groundball rate has helped him drop his home run rate as he dropped a full one home run per nine innings from his 2018-2021 seasons to 2022.
Although Wright has obviously transformed into an elite groundball artist, he has also cut back on walks as well as finding a true put away pitch to help with his strikeouts Kyle also brought up his strikeouts
Although Wright has obviously transformed into an elite groundball artist, he has also cut back on walks as well as finding a true put away pitch to help with his strikeouts. In the 70 innings pitched from 2018-2021, Kyle Wright walked 6.2 per nine innings pitched. In 2022, he averaged 2.6 per nine in 180.1 innings. For reference, the league average in 2022 was 3.1.
Kyle also brought up his strikeouts. Part of that was walking fewer hitters, but also because he found a true out pitch (two strike pitch that results in a strikeout). On his slider/cutter, if hitters had two strikeouts, and he threw that pitch, they struck out 57.1 percent of the time.
In 2022, Kyle Wright went from being a fringe MLBer to a legitimate top of the rotation starter. He is not as flashy as pitcher because he does not strikeout a ton of hitters like a Spencer Strider or Charlie Morton. However, Wright was an unsung hero nonetheless for the Braves in 2022. (Sam Peebles - Nov. 9, 2022)
- Feb 20, 2023: Wright is "whole, healthy and fresh" after a shoulder injection