Since he was drafted last June, Kyle Wright has harped on the privilege of joining the Braves, the franchise which helped him grow to love baseball.
Wright, 22, is through two outings in the majors after a mad-dash up the minor league ranks. He pitched a pair of scoreless innings against Boston and after a clean seventh inning, got knocked around by the Diamondbacks in the eighth.
“It’s been cool. It’s been fun,” Wright said. “In my first outing I threw well. I attacked hitters and then (Friday) I thought I was very, very fortunate. I was behind a lot of guys. I gave free bases. Even in the first inning, (Johan) Camargo saved me with a nice play and I was able to make a pitch. I just have to be better at attacking hitters.”
Wright emphasizes aggressiveness. He illustrated it during his first major-league batter faced, Jackie Bradley Jr., when he struck him out on five pitches. He threw 31 pitches, 15 for strikes, without allowing a hit against the Red Sox.
Arizona was a different story. Wright led off with a seven-pitch walk to Paul Goldschmidt. He managed to pitch around that, but couldn’t do so the following inning.
Nick Ahmed singled off Wright. He walked the following two hitters, leaving with the bases loaded and none out. Luke Jackson held the damage to a run, but the Braves ultimately lost 5-3. There was a lengthy break between his frames, with the Braves offense dragging the eighth over a half-hour, but Wright nor manager Brian Snitker felt that made a difference.
It was a valuable learning experience for Wright, who admitted his aggressiveness wasn’t nearly the level of his first appearance.
“I thought my approach against the Red Sox was much better than it was (Friday against Arizona),” he said. “I saw free and easy, attacking the strikezone and I made pitches off that. Then (Friday) I was rushing a little bit, left my arm back and all over the place. Didn’t have great off-speed stuff either. But yeah, just have to not look too deep into who you’re facing. Just make pitches the best you can.
“I just have to do a better job getting after guys right away rather than trying to be too refined with stuff. After your team puts some runs up, it’s important to attack right away. I didn’t do that. But next time out I’ll do a much better job attacking hitters.”
The Braves stress their pitchers getting ahead. That sounds obviously – and it is – but there’s new perspective when pitchers see the numbers. Wright, among others in the system, including Mike Soroka, attributes his rapid rise to the organization’s pitching approach.
Wright’s noted major league hitters foul off more pitches. He doesn’t want to overthink situations, trying to be perfect rather than just delivering strikes. He’s going through the learning curve every arm before him endured.
How he navigates that curve will influence his standing entering next season - Wright could pitch himself into the 2019 rotation. For now, he’ll focus on the day at hand.
“Every day I come to the clubhouse it’s living a dream,” he said. “I’m sure that’ll stay with me for a long time. Just once the game starts, it’s the same game. But it’ll be a special feeling every time you get to walk into a locker-room. It’s a privilege. You have to work to get here and work to stay here. So I just try to keep that same mindset every day.”