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The Scouting Skinny: Kyle Wright

A new day, a new draft prospect that has some momentum to go 1/1.

Twins fans have embraced high school phenom Hunter Greene. Some have warmed to one of the best collegiate players of all time Brendan McKay. But the name that has the most momentum is Kyle Wright, a right-handed pitcher from Vanderbilt.
 This story was sent out last week on our Twins Daily newsletter. Sign up below or in the upper right-hand corner to get insights like this first.  

Rewind to late September of 2016, around the time the Hunter Greene Train started barrelling down the tracks as the Twins barreled towards clinching the first overall draft pick in the 2017 draft. I sent out a series of texts about the upcoming draft class, trying to gauge which guys might be getting early consideration to go first overall. One text response really stuck out: “I’d take Wright.”
Kyle Wright was a name I’d heard, but not one that was firmly on my radar. (It was only September.) Sure enough, Wright was someone that many felt could go early. He was arguably the best pitcher in college baseball.

Fast forward to February and Kyle Wright starts slow. Command and consistency, his two biggest question marks, were lacking. Short starts, walks, wild pitches… and the big draftniks questioned if he would go Top 10.

Things started to change on April 14 when Wright dominated Florida. Wright pitched a complete game shutout, allowing only three hits and striking out a career-high 13 batters. Most importantly and impressively, though, Wright didn’t walk anyone.

Wright backed that game up with two more starts - neither great, neither horrible - before getting a chance to impress in front of Twins CBO Derek Falvey. He responded by throwing an absolute gem. Nine innings, three hits, one walk, one run, 13 strikeouts and 119 pitches. I reached back out to the same scout from last fall and got this no-nonsense response: “Best player in the draft by far.”

So who is Kyle Wright? Prototypical size (6’ 4”, 220), mid-90s fastball, a really good slider, a good curveball and an improving changeup. Wright is represented by CAA (who also represents Phil Hughes) and doesn’t seem to have any sort of injury history.

All seems too good to be true, right? Maybe. Doing research on Wright, I’d noticed a lot of pictures of Wright, in mid-delivery, in the Inverted W or at the moment your lead foot lands, your throwing elbow being higher than your throwing shoulder. I remember that being a concern about Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg.

I’m not a scout and don’t pretend to be one, so I asked a Twins scout who has seen both. Initially, he had no concerns about Wright’s delivery. But later said this, “I’ve looked more. There are more similarities, delivery-wise, than I knew.”

But the similarities don’t stop there. There are no Strasburg-type pitchers in the organization. Wright has that potential (minus Strasburg's 80 fastball). And if the risk of arm potential arm issues down the line precludes an organizaton from drafting a potential ace… well, what’s the point of drafting any pitcher ever?

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59 Comments

Is Steven Strasburg without the 80 fastball really Steven Strasburg, or just some guy that physically looks like Steven Strasburg? Not snark, honest question.

I wouldn't be overly disappointed if they take him, it might be the right move. But, it's really hard to not to like the kid with the 80 fastball as a 17 year old, especially if we're throwing potential arm issues out the window. If we're not throwing arm issues out the window, it's even tougher to turn down a plus bat at a middle infield spot as a plan B.
    • glunn likes this
The more I read about Wright the more I like him. I know people are enamored with Greene and his high 90 to 100 heat. But I still keep reading inconsistent reports here and there about his secondary stuff. I also like McKay. He's ON, which is nice, throws consistently in the low to mid 90's and is proven. He seems to have a solid floor and a decent ceiling.

But Wright throws harder, probably has the higher ceiling, and would probably be every bit as close to the majors as McKay. A possible 4 pitch mix right out of college with that frame and potential? I think I'm starting to lean a bit the "Wright" way.
    • glunn, SDTwinsFan, Twins33 and 3 others like this

Greene or McKay. Pitching is a bit of a crapshoot but both guys have something else to fall back on. If Wright were significantly better I'd get it but he's not a once-in-every-five-drafts type of talent.

    • glunn and Vanimal46 like this

Wright or McKay. Whichever will sign for less.

    • 70charger and gheggs42 like this
McKay as a pitcher, Greene as a pitcher, Wright, Greene as a MI, and McKay as a 1B. In that order. The thing is we are desperately in need of SP. This team still has one proven starter, and is an injury away from having a terrible SP staff. McKay as a 1B? I think we have that market cornered already. Greene is the shiny new object, and would make for Buxton like interest in MiLB again. As for Wright? I hope we have the opprtunity to find out if a 1-1 can be really special. I don't think he will give us that satisfaction.
    • glunn likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
May 16 2017 06:30 AM

I'm leaning McKay, but think it should be Wright or McKay. 

    • glunn likes this

McKay or Wright. The Twins need reliable starting pitching, three or four good starters (with a good bullpen) will go a long way toward getting them into the playoffs. 

 

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

    • glunn and bluechipper like this

After last weekend - fair or not - I have pretty much zero interest in McKay with the 1.1 pick. I definitely understand the risks with Greene, but over the last two weeks, Kyle Wright has become the guy I would take. Potential to be an ace with much less risk than Greene. Maybe not quite the upside of Greene - due to throwing 96 instead of 102 - but much more likely to become a #2 pitcher that they need. And yet he still can be a #1 too.

    • glunn, gunnarthor, nicksaviking and 8 others like this

I've been predicting Wright for about a month now. I've also come around, and personally want Wright.

 

But, if they take Greene, Wright, or McKay as a pitcher, I'm good with that. 

    • glunn, Oldgoat_MN and Tibs like this
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diehardtwinsfan
May 16 2017 08:31 AM

 

After last weekend - fair or not - I have pretty much zero interest in McKay with the 1.1 pick. I definitely understand the risks with Greene, but over the last two weeks, Kyle Wright has become the guy I would take. Potential to be an ace with much less risk than Greene. Maybe not quite the upside of Greene - due to throwing 96 instead of 102 - but much more likely to become a #2 pitcher that they need. And yet he still can be a #1 too.

 

what happened last weekend?

    • glunn likes this
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Comrade Bork
May 16 2017 08:33 AM

I'd still draft Greene as a SS.  He is still a phenom fielding talent and with that cannon, he'd certainly make it at SS.  There is NO WAY he doesn't blow out his arm at some point and the success rate of high end prep pitchers is appalling.  

 

Whats Falvine's track record on drafting 1st round pitchers?  None of the first round pitchers for Texas or Cleveland from the last couple years jumped out at me. 

 

what happened last weekend?

 

Was throwing 87-90 (touching 91, 92)... Of course, that doesn't mean he can't become the next Bumgarner or Buehle of Cliff Lee, velocity isn't mandatory, but I prefer the harder throwers at 1-1. 

    • glunn and nicksaviking like this

Was throwing 87-90 (touching 91, 92)... Of course, that doesn't mean he can't become the next Bumgarner or Buehle of Cliff Lee, velocity isn't mandatory, but I prefer the harder throwers at 1-1.


Exactly. If he's doing that on 7 days rest, then I'm not sure what 5 days rest would do to him. Not many successful pitchers throwing less than 90 mph at the big league level.
    • glunn, nicksaviking and Oldgoat_MN like this
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Jeremy Nygaard
May 16 2017 11:37 AM

 

Is Steven Strasburg without the 80 fastball really Steven Strasburg, or just some guy that physically looks like Steven Strasburg? Not snark, honest question.

 

Strasburg with a 70 fastball is still a legitimate front end pitcher. Strausburg - out of college - with his fastball/slider combo was an once a decade prospect.

    • glunn likes this

 

Was throwing 87-90 (touching 91, 92)... Of course, that doesn't mean he can't become the next Bumgarner or Buehle of Cliff Lee, velocity isn't mandatory, but I prefer the harder throwers at 1-1. 

 

If someone told you McKay as a 1B would mash HR's and also hit for avg would you still go pitcher at 1-1, Seth? It's true, corner infielders rarely get picked at #1 and pitching is super important. 

    • glunn likes this
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Willihammer
May 16 2017 12:03 PM

Wright's definitely got some helium. I'd like to see him finish the year strong and separate himself. Right now his YoY trends are relatively flat, McKay's are more explosive. Wright should have one more regular season start then at least one in the SEC tourney.

    • glunn likes this
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Old Twins Cap
May 16 2017 12:15 PM

I hope Twins don't decide this on a single weekend low radar reading at an underfunded southern university. 

 

Don't these scouts have their own velocity guns?

 

And if the argument is that McKay is simply relying on "pitchability", and not raw stuff, I will ask how the James Hooey thing worked out for us.

Greg
1:32 Any new draft buzz in the top 5?

 

Eric A Longenhagen
1:35 McKay's velo is down a bit, he's also working on a new cutter. Some people who say those two things are related. The ratio of people who prefer him as a bat is growing, at least among the people I'm talking to. Kyle Wright has been dominant of late and will be #1 on my board on its release. Rest of the top 5 is more or less the same, some combo of Lewis, Gore, Greene.

    • glunn, gunnarthor, Willihammer and 1 other like this
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Willihammer
May 16 2017 12:27 PM

Yeah in lieu of injury I think its possible, maybe likely the 88-90 velo readings were the cutter, which could be a welcome development actually.

 

BTW in that start everyone is so concerned about McKay did throw 5 shutout innings, striking out 7 (3 walks, 5 hits).

 

Part of the love/hate following this stuff thirdhand.

    • Mike Sixel likes this

From what I recall, Mckay hasn't ever had the mid-90's velocity some here seem to think he did have.

 

Pretty sure it's always been high 80's low 90's, touching a little higher, 93 maybe.

 

But what I did see this last weekend, is multiple reports about him using a "new" cutter, and that it was mid-80's. Based on that, I'm fairly certain reports about the new cutter and velocity being down are related.

    • glunn likes this
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Willihammer
May 16 2017 12:41 PM

I've not read anything suggesting McKay has mid-90s velo. 90-94 was/is the book on him. But there's been no mention of a cutter until recently.

    • glunn likes this
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Willihammer
May 16 2017 12:42 PM

 

 

But what I did see this last weekend, is multiple reports about him using a "new" cutter, and that it was mid-80's.

Link?

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Bob Sacamento
May 16 2017 12:48 PM

 

I've not read anything suggesting McKay has mid-90s velo. 90-94 was/is the book on him. But there's been no mention of a cutter until recently.

From BA:

 

He excels at locating his 89-93 mph fastball to his glove side, pitching inside to righthanded hitters with aplomb and pitching on the black of the plate with angle consistently. His advanced fastball command—his best attribute as a pitcher. McKay’s curveball, like his fastball, earns above-average grades. He commands it, lands it and buries it for strikeouts, and scouts believe both pitches could improve to true plusses if McKay gave up hitting and focused on pitching, particularly in terms of a consistent starter’s routine. His changeup is a third pitch that he uses rarely and will have to improve as a pro. He could be a middle-of-the-order hitter or No. 3 starter, the latter in short order. His baseball athleticism was evident in his quick pickup of a cut fastball in late April, which helped him add a fourth pitch to his repertoire.
    • glunn likes this
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Willihammer
May 16 2017 12:59 PM

 

From BA:

Sickels has him 90-94. Nobody has suggested anything higher than that.

 

Whichever range you want to believe, the 88-90 in his last outing would be on the low side, which is why I'm asking for links to reports about his cutter being mid-80s. I haven't come across those reports, and they haven't been linked to in the main draft thread (or here).

 

If we can't get confirmation on his cutter velo then this concern about 88-90 in his last outing could be much ado about nothing. That's what I'm trying to figure out.

    • glunn and nicksaviking like this

This turned from a Wright thread to a McKay thread pretty quickly.

    • glunn, Mike Sixel and Respy like this

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