The Braves reassigned pitcher Kyle Wright to minor league camp Sunday, but last year’s first-round draft pick impressed plenty in three weeks at major league spring training.
“Everything you look for in a pitcher,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Wright, 22, who made a combined nine starts in rookie-league ball and high Single-A last season after being selected with the fifth pick in June out of Vanderbilt.
The Braves also optioned right-handers Akeel Morris and Jason Hursh to Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday. They’re on the 40-man roster and Wright is not, hence the difference in the wording of the moves.
Morris allowed one hit and four walks with one strikeout 2-1/3 scoreless innings over three appearances. He had a minor league option and needed work on his fastball command, Snitker said of the reasoning for sending him down. The Braves have other bullpen candidates including several either out of options or with Rule 5 draft conditions.
Hursh, 26, struggled mightily this spring, making three relief appearances and allowing eight hits, seven runs, three walks and a hit batter in 2-2/3 innings for a 23.63 ERA. He was a Braves first-round draft pick in 2010 and has pitched in only 11 major league games, all in relief including nine appearances in 2017 when he had a 5.06 ERA.
The Braves are pleased with all they’ve seen of Wright, who made two appearances this spring, allowing four hits and two runs with one strikeout and one walk in 2-1/3 innings. Since the Braves have so many experienced prospects and rookies competing for rotation spots and Wright was never viewed as a possibility for the opening-day roster, he was reassigned in order to get into a regular every-fifth-day pitching schedule in minor league spring games.
It’s uncertain whether he’ll begin the season back at high-A Florida or Double-A Mississippi, a decision to be made by player development director Dom Chiti and his staff.
Wright had a 2.65 ERA in nine pro starts last summer and totaled 18 strikeouts with six walks and no homers allowed in 17 innings. He made three rookie-ball starts and was promoted for six late-season starts at high Single-A Florida.
Snitker said he and legendary former Braves manager Bobby Cox watched one of Wright’s bullpen side sessions and both agreed: “That’s what they look like.”
Snitker said Wright and 20-year-old pitching prospect Mike Soroka show unusually high levels of maturity and that both “are going to be here sooner than later.”
Soroka was a standout at Double-A last season – 2.75 ERA in 26 starts – and has allowed one run and one hit with three strikeouts in two Grapefruit League games, including a strikeout of Tigers star Miguel Cabrera looking at a 95-mph fastball. He’s 27th in Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects.