There always seems to be a Vanderbilt Commodores pitcher at the top of the MLB draft charts and 2017 is no exception. This year we’re looking at right-hander Kyle Wright, a certain first round pick at this point and a candidate for the top five. Here’s a quick take.
Wright was well-known to scouts as a high school pitcher from New Market, Alabama, and was considered the top prep pitcher in the state in 2014 by many experts. However, he was so strongly committed to college at Vanderbilt that nobody bothered to draft him at all.
He pitched out of the Vandy bullpen in 2015 and was lights-out, posting a 1.23 ERA in 59 innings with a 62/23 K/BB, allowing a mere 36 hits, then moved into the rotation as a sophomore, going 8-4, 3.09 in 16 starts with a 107/32 K/BB in 93 innings.
He entered the 2017 draft season as a candidate to go first-overall. His spring has been inconsistent, with a 3.66 ERA in 11 starts and a 69/24 K/BB in 66 innings. Although he hasn’t had the breakout season scouts wanted to see, he’s pitched more effectively lately, enough to keep him in contention for early spots in the first round.
When Wright got to college he was listed at 6-3, 195 pounds and looked skinnier than that.
Born October 2nd, 1995, he’s gained size and strength over the last three years and currently checks in at 6-4, 220, ideal size for a starting pitcher. In high school he threw 86-90 MPH but that’s up to 92-95 now with peaks as high as 97. His velocity was reportedly off a bit during some early starts this season but has picked back up in April and he’s still shown the ability to dominate, notably in a 13-strikeout start against the Florida Gators on April 14th.
Wright will mix in a full complement of secondary pitches including a curve, slider, cutter, and change-up. The best secondary depends on what day you see him but the curve and slider seem a bit ahead of the change-up. His command is not perfect but when he’s locked in he throws four quality major league pitches for strikes. He’s also proven quite durable to this point in his career.
Wright’s junior year hasn’t been as good as expected and at times this spring the whole has been less than the sum of the parts. This is similar in some ways to what happened with former Vanderbilt starter and 2014 San Francisco Giants first round pick Tyler Beede, who had a spotty junior year due to command issues but was still drafted 14th overall.
Wright could follow a similar pattern, although even with his inconsistency this spring Wright is still having a better year than Beede did in ‘14.
There was talk of Wright being a first-overall candidate three months ago. That has cooled, but given his complete package it is very hard to see Wright falling out of the top ten. Indeed, both Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo at MLB Pipeline still see him as a top five pick, Mayo linking him with the Padres at number three and Callis with the Rays at number four in their most recent Mock Draft.
Video by Vincent Servino
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