The Cincinnati Reds will be starting right handed pitcher Daniel Wright tonight against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It will be the Major League debut for the starter who has split his season between Double-A and Triple-A, as well as between the bullpen and the rotation.
Wright was originally selected by the Reds in the 10th round of the 2013 draft out of Arkansas State. He’s moved rather quickly through the system, but will be the third player from the draft that season by Cincinnati to make it to the big leagues (Michael Lorenzen and Layne Somsen are the other two). The early report on Wright coming out of college was that he has iffy mechanics that may lead to some control problems. He was a senior when drafted and his senior season was easily the best of his college career. He posted a 4-year best walk rate and strikeout rate.
The reports coming out of college with his control never showed up. He’s sporting a career walk rate of 1.9 batters walked per 9 innings pitched. He’s also struck out 8.1 batters per 9 innings pitched, leaving him with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.4 for his minor league career. Wright has come out and absolutely pounded the strikezone since being drafted.
The now 25-year-old righty has mostly been used as a starter in his career, starting 56 of 65 games since the start of the 2014 season, but he did begin the 2016 season in the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos bullpen. He made two spot starts when injuries opened up spots in Pensacola, tossing 11.0 shutout innings with three hits allowed, no runs, two walks and 12 strikeouts before moving back to the bullpen.
After three relief appearances he stepped up to Triple-A and made two more starts. In his first start he allowed two earned runs in 5.0 innings with a walk and two strikeouts, needing just 65 pitches to get through that span. It was the next start that stood out as the righty was charged with an unearned run in a complete game where he allowed just three hits, walked no one and had eight strikeouts.
The scouting report on Daniel Wright starts with control. As noted earlier in the article, he attacks the strikezone and hardly struggles with walking hitters. His stuff isn’t going to blow anyone away. The fastball works in the 89-92 MPH range and he mixes in a good 12-6 curveball and a solid change up. Where he sticks out is his ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes and his ability to mix pitches well and keep hitters off balance.
With players making their Major League debut, you never really know what you are going to get because some guys handle the nerves a little better than others do. Assuming Daniel Wright is the guy he’s expected to be, he’s going to throw a lot of strikes and mix his pitches well. Without overpowering stuff he’s going to need to locate his offerings. He’s been able to do that in the minor leagues for the better part of his career, so that certainly plays into his favor. In the long run, with the amount of starting pitching prospects that the organization has, Wright’s future likely lies in the bullpen where his ability to throw strikes would be a welcome addition. For now he seems like the best option that the team has to help fill out their rotation in the short term until some of the injured pitchers start coming off of the disabled list and the team has to decide where to go from there.