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Twins MLB Draft Preview: Kyle Wright, SP

Kyle Wright is a right-handed pitcher from Vanderbilt University who has used a late-season charge to take the lead as we race to Monday’s MLB Draft.

Wright is still pitching as Vanderbilt advanced to the Super Regionals, where he will face an Oregon State team this weekend that is 53-4.
Image courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics
Who Is He?

Kyle Wright is “best player in the the draft by far” a Twins scout told me about a month ago.

It just so happened to be an echo of what the same scout told me late last summer, around the time the Hunter Greene hype-train started barreling down the tracks. Wright had just completed his time pitching for the Collegiate National team, with his last outing coming in relief, but pitching five one-hit innings and striking out five Cubans. That was the exclamation point to a very strong summer showing: 16 2/3 innings, 16 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.20.

Kyle Wright had officially arrived. Armed with a low-to-mid-90s two-seamer, a four-seamer that touches 97, two breaking balls - a curveball and slider that both sit around 80 mph and a changeup that has slowly been getting better and better. Four usable pitches when he’s at his best, Kyle Wright has the makings of a top draft prospect.

You can read an interview with Kyle Wright done by the boy wonder Chris Cotillo.

Why the Twins Will Pick Him

When you’re picking first, you take the best player in the draft, right? Well, that’s arguably one feather that Wright has in his hat. But that’s all relative. If you want ceiling, there are higher ceilings than Wright's. If you want a higher floor, Wright’s got a lower floor than some others. What Wright has, in many people’s opinion, is the perfect combination of potential and floor.

He’s developed admirably since arriving at Vanderbilt. As a high school senior, he was 6’ 3”, 175 lbs with a fastball that touched 90 if the wind was blowing right. Three years later, he’s 6’ 4”, 220 and can touch 97 and could still have more developing to do.

After being a stud in the bullpen as a freshman, Wright moved into the rotation and was Vandy’s Friday night starter as a junior. The stars were aligned… and then he struggled. The velo was there. The consistency wasn’t.

But after not putting up great numbers, he’s Wrighted the ship. The 5-5 record might not be as pretty as last year’s 8-4 or the 6-1 as a freshman, but the peripherals are all better. His K/9 is up to 10.5 from 10.3. His WHIP went down to 1.06 from1.22. His walks are down. His home runs are down. He’s just better.

His performance last Saturday, with many Twins scouts in attendance, was the stuff worthy of being the first overall pick. You can read all about it here.

Why the Twins Will Not Pick Him

When you think of first overall picks, the names Stephen Strasburg and David Price pop into your heads. Wright isn’t those guys. There isn’t a “generational” college prospect. Ideally, when you’re drafting first, there’s the can’t-miss guy that’s going to breaking into the major leagues within a year of signing. This isn’t one of those drafts.

You may make a comparison between Wright and Strasburg though. Only it revolves around their deliveries. I went into more depth a few weeks ago in a separate piece for Twins Daily. While Kyle Wright has a clean bill of health, Strasburg hasn’t as he’s had multiple arm injuries. Is it enough to make the Twins look another direction? That remains to be seen.

Then there are the inconsistencies that Wright has shown over not only the last few months, but the last few seasons. As with anyone with a developing body and skills would, that shouldn’t be too alarming. But when mixed with the other things, how does it stack up against other prospects?

Nick Nelson wrote about the Vandy product being the Wright fit recently. I’d say he is. I would guess that somewhere in the upper parts of Target Field the team has made a call to Wright’s representatives, CAA, and have begun negotiating what it’s going to take to get that name on the dotted line. (Editor's note: they haven't... yet.)

In my estimation, that conversation - if the sides aren’t close - is the biggest factor as to whether the Twins pick him or not. And I’m guessing they won’t be too far apart… at least not by the end of the weekend.

Follow Kyle on Twitter too.

Previous Draft Profiles:

Hunter Greene, SP/SS by Nick Nelson
Brendan McKay, SP/1B by Cody Christie
Royce Lewis, SS/OF by Nick Nelson
Pavin Smith, 1B by Tom Froemming

My 10-round Mock Draft

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30 Comments

If it happens, I'm okay with it. Not a "generational talent" as Nygaard says, but Kyle Wright probably will be a good major league starter within a couple years, just when the Twins will need it. 

My heart wants Greene but my brain wants Wright. 

Many people on this site rightfully focus on the need for multiple plus pitches to be a #3 or higher starter (make it through the line up more than 2 times).

 

My biggest concern for Greene (yes, bigger than TJ surgery), is the wildcard of his secondary pitches. They take some level of ‘feel’ that is not always coachable.

 

    • jimbo92107, d-mac and FunnyPenguin like this
I'm still going to go with Wright, though I can easily and clearly see reasons for the other 4 guys that seem to almost be universally mentioned for the top 5.

I just don't see a negative with him. He had a rough-ish start to this season, discovered a mechanical flaw, corrected it, and has been sailing ever since. The track record is there. The fastball and secondary pitches are there. While it's still all speculation, he appears to be a #3 SP at worst, and a potential #2 and perhaps a #1 in time. (Though that is almost impossible to predict and can be said about others). The fact that he could be up in 2 years doesn't hurt.
    • gunnarthor, jimbo92107 and Twins33 like this
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Willihammer
Jun 08 2017 08:51 AM

 

I would guess that somewhere in the upper parts of Target Field the team has made a call to Wright’s representatives, CAA, and have begun negotiating what it’s going to take to get that name on the dotted line. (Editor's note: they haven't... yet.).

They haven't settled on a price yet, or the two sides haven'tbegun talking price yet?

When do those conversation usually start?

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Willihammer
Jun 08 2017 08:54 AM

Jeremy I'm curious to get your thoughts on signing bonuses for the various names being talked about -Wright, Greene, McKay, Lewis, Gore, specifically, but also some 2nd tier guys like Adell. Do you have a sense of the price points for any of these guys?

Umm...This guy has the Inverted W causes injuries to the elbow and shoulder. PLEASE SAY NOOOOO.

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diehardtwinsfan
Jun 08 2017 09:15 AM

If I read this right, we are talking 6 pitches... with 4 usable now???? How many are plus vs. future plus?I'm honestly curious.6 pitches provides a lot of variety, and even he has no plus plus pitches, that's still potential ace territory if he has that many options to get out hitters. 

 

I think this is the right pick. 

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diehardtwinsfan
Jun 08 2017 09:15 AM

 

Umm...This guy has the Inverted W causes injuries to the elbow and shoulder. PLEASE SAY NOOOOO.

 

this has been largely debunked for the record.

    • Steve Lein and Ben Noble like this

 

If I read this right, we are talking 6 pitches... with 4 usable now???? How many are plus vs. future plus?I'm honestly curious.6 pitches provides a lot of variety, and even he has no plus plus pitches, that's still potential ace territory if he has that many options to get out hitters. 

 

I think this is the right pick. 

 

6 pitches that will most likely be cut down to 3 pitches by the time he reaches the upper levels of the minors... 

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Dave The Dastardly
Jun 08 2017 09:26 AM

Considering where the Twins are in their rebuilding project, this is the Wright guy.

 

Umm...This guy has the Inverted W causes injuries to the elbow and shoulder. PLEASE SAY NOOOOO.

I've seen a photo of Wright with his elbows drawn up and back, but his throwing forearm wasn't pointed down in the exaggerated inverted W that causes real concern. His forearm was pointed sideways, so he wasn't headed for the damaging torque phase that makes the W so notorious. Also, if you look at Wright's form just before release, you see a very nice squared-up shoulder and elbow, where his throwing elbow isn't lagging far behind a line drawn across his chest. This means Wright is generating the final impulse out front, using the power from his legs and torso more than just his upper body. As long as he keeps that final flip out front at the end of the kinetic chain, he should be okay. 

    • Steve Lein, Jham, nater79a and 1 other like this

Wright is probably the #1 guy on my board. 

 

The only other scenario I see is what Jeremy discussed the other day. Below slot high school arm (Gore) that lets them leverage another HS arm to them at 35 (Baz).

 

I like both scenarios.

    • gunnarthor, Twins33 and 70charger like this

 

Jeremy I'm curious to get your thoughts on signing bonuses for the various names being talked about -Wright, Greene, McKay, Lewis, Gore, specifically, but also some 2nd tier guys like Adell. Do you have a sense of the price points for any of these guys?

 

In addition, can you verify which are Scott Boras guys? I want to say Lewis and Gore are, which means they're unlikely to take too much of a deal, right?

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diehardtwinsfan
Jun 08 2017 10:52 AM

 

In addition, can you verify which are Scott Boras guys? I want to say Lewis and Gore are, which means they're unlikely to take too much of a deal, right?

 

Perhaps not too much, but if Boras knows they are going 9, he would be foolish to advise his client against 7-8 money at 1 overall... that's how those things work. 

The only way I select Kyle Wright is if I am going to fast track the fast track to the MLB.  If I am running the Twins he is literally on the major league roster the day after he signs.

 

But, if Wright is going to be developed the Twins way:  Elizabethton with maybe a Cedar Rapids late season call up.  Cedar Rapids.  Ft Myers with maybe a Chattanooga call up.  Chattanooga. Then have every 28-29 year old waiver wire pitcher in the league be signed, bounce a couple of years between Rochester and Minnesota......

 

Then I go with Hunter Greene.  

 

Perhaps not too much, but if Boras knows they are going 9, he would be foolish to advise his client against 7-8 money at 1 overall... that's how those things work. 

It would be hard to "know they are going 9" if they are somehow still in play at 1.  If that's the case, there might still be a decent chance the player goes before 9, and Boras might still be working to achieve that, and leveraging the #1 interest to increase his bonus wherever he is selected. Can be pretty complicated!

 

The only way I select Kyle Wright is if I am going to fast track the fast track to the MLB.  If I am running the Twins he is literally on the major league roster the day after he signs.

 

But, if Wright is going to be developed the Twins way:  Elizabethton with maybe a Cedar Rapids late season call up.  Cedar Rapids.  Ft Myers with maybe a Chattanooga call up.  Chattanooga. Then have every 28-29 year old waiver wire pitcher in the league be signed, bounce a couple of years between Rochester and Minnesota......

 

Then I go with Hunter Greene.  

 

Alex Wimmers and Tyler Jay went straight to Fort Myers. I would expect the same with Wright. Maybe Falvey likes AA for those types too (which I am an advocate for), we don't know yet.

    • gunnarthor likes this

 

Alex Wimmers and Tyler Jay went straight to Fort Myers. I would expect the same with Wright. Maybe Falvey likes AA for those types too (which I am an advocate for), we don't know yet.

There's fast track, and there's rocket sled. Kyle Wright might actually survive right now in the major leagues. Problem is, even if he's got the stuff, he hasn't built up his body to withstand pitching for a whole mlb season, or even half of one. But what the Twins could do is add Wright to the pen (as was discussed for Jay), and see if he can blow some balls by people in a limited role. 

 

The counter argument is pretty simple. What's the rush? The Twins aren't going to the World Series this season, so there's no imperative to mess with a high-end prospect's arm and head. 

 

To me Wright looks much better than either Wimmers or Jay did coming out of the draft. His form looks excellent and his command reportedly is good, tho he may need to build up more stamina. Trying him out in low-leverage relief situations (like Belisle and Breslow) is unlikely to hurt his arm or impede his progress next season. If he looks too shaky, send him to AA or A. If he looks great, then keep using him.

 

"Yo Kyle, come on up for an early cup of coffee. Day at the fair, see if you can win a stuffed animal. Make some mistakes, get nervous, plunk the mascot, whatever. Either way you're probably starting next season in the minors." 

 

Put it to him like that. If he does well, he starts next season in AA. If he falls to pieces, maybe he starts next season in Fort Meyers. 

 

There's fast track, and there's rocket sled. Kyle Wright might actually survive right now in the major leagues. Problem is, even if he's got the stuff, he hasn't built up his body to withstand pitching for a whole mlb season, or even half of one. But what the Twins could do is add Wright to the pen (as was discussed for Jay), and see if he can blow some balls by people in a limited roll. 

 

 

Haha, I like your idea, but I don't see it happening for the other "whats the rush" reasons you point out.

My guess? He'd go to Ft Myers for introduction and a tuneup and could see AA for a couple of starts before finishing his year in the pen due to innings limits.
    • gunnarthor and 70charger like this

Yeah, I don't think the idea that the Twins are slow on their pitchers is valid. Berrios got to the majors at 22. Both Stewart and Gonsalves were among the youngest arms at AA last year. Jay got to AA in a year. Romero was pushed to AA after TJ surgery etc. Really, except for injuries, the only thing slowing our minor league pitchers has been their performance. Brad Steil has done a good job pushing prospects up the ladder.

    • diehardtwinsfan, Twins33, 70charger and 1 other like this

Don't you just love the strategy of being so bad you get the number one pick, and then you take a number 9 at number 1, just to save a couple million to pay a 30 something? And you totally don't take advantage of the number one overall pick. Not my style.

    • drjim, DocBauer and Vanimal46 like this

The older I get the more I realize that 'slow and steady will win a lot races'.

 

Wright will 'hopefully' give you a reliable 2-3 starter for years. Greenecould be great but he could also be a bust- the Twins need reliable starting pitching right now.

 

I'd pick Wright.

 

 

 

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    • brvama likes this
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Jeremy Nygaard
Jun 09 2017 10:18 AM

 

They haven't settled on a price yet, or the two sides haven'tbegun talking price yet?

When do those conversation usually start?

 

As of press time, they hadn't begun talking. Today might be that day though.

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Jeremy Nygaard
Jun 09 2017 10:20 AM

 

I've seen a photo of Wright with his elbows drawn up and back, but his throwing forearm wasn't pointed down in the exaggerated inverted W that causes real concern. His forearm was pointed sideways, so he wasn't headed for the damaging torque phase that makes the W so notorious. Also, if you look at Wright's form just before release, you see a very nice squared-up shoulder and elbow, where his throwing elbow isn't lagging far behind a line drawn across his chest. This means Wright is generating the final impulse out front, using the power from his legs and torso more than just his upper body. As long as he keeps that final flip out front at the end of the kinetic chain, he should be okay. 

 

I don't know all the ins-and-outs of what scouts look for, but one professional scout I trust said there were way more similarities between Wright and Strasburg's delivery than he realized. Glad I drew his attention to that... cause he's in the draft room right now. I don't know if it's been a topic of conversation though.


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