As we get closer to the 2017 MLB Draft, three players have begun to solidify themselves as the top prospects in the country. Thanks to their dreadful 2016 season, the Twins have the first overall pick in the draft and the ability to select whichever prospect they think is the best option to help restock their farm system. We have already previewed flamethrower extraordinaire Hunter Greene as well as Louisville two-way talent Brendan McKay, the first two members of the top prospect trio. Rounding out that group is another college arm, right handed starting pitcher Kyle Wright, from Vanderbilt.
Wright started the season slow, having some command issues and being surprisingly hittable. As of May 8th, he sported a 3.35 ERA with a 82-25 K/BB ratio and 1.09 K/IP mark. While these numbers are not remarkable, he has turned the corner in his last few appearances. On April 13th against the 12th ranked Florida Gators Wright threw a 3-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts while only throwing 99 pitches. A week later he allowed one hit and 3 walks while collecting 8 strikeouts in 7 innings against Georgia. On May 6th he threw 9 innings with 3 hits, a walk, one earned run and 13 strikeouts on 119 pitches. These ace-like performances show exactly why teams could call his name within the first five or ten picks of this year’s draft. He did get hit for four runs on three hits and two walks on April 29th, though.
Wright sports a 60 grade fastball that sits 91-94 MPH and that he can crank up to 97 MPH when the time is right. He has a curveball and slider that are both considered above average pitches (55 grade—although the curve is a bit better than the slider). He mixes in a true curveball against lefties and the slider/cutter against righties, and has the makings of a changeup he will need to develop as a pro that will likely become an average offering.
His simple and smooth delivery should help his command and control over time, and unlike most college pitchers, Wright still has some untapped ceiling in his perfect 6’4” 220lb frame. Scouts who like him believe he could be a legitimate top of the rotation starter if it all comes together.
As evidenced by decent statistics this year, Wright has not had the sort of season that is usually required for college pitchers to get drafted in the top five picks. His control and command have projection but have yet to become reality—he simply needs to be able to locate his pitches better. If he can put together another hot streak during the end of the college baseball season he may cement his status as a top pick in the draft, but he still has time to regress and hurt his stock.
Kyle Wright does not have the pure upside of someone like Hunter Greene, but of all the college pitchers in this year’s draft, Wright may stand the best chance to become a cog at the front end of a big league rotation. We do not yet know if the Twins’ front office will look for a high school or college player in the draft, but Wright could very well be a target of the Twins in June.
If chosen, Wright would represent the best chance in the Twins’ system of becoming a true ace, and would easily become the Twins top pitching prospect.