He is mentioned often as being one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. After this past season, Baseball America rated right-hander Mike Wright as the club’s No. 8 prospect and he ranks fourth among pitchers after Dylan Bundy (No. 1), Kevin Gausman (No. 2) and Eduardo Rodriguez (No. 5).
Wright began this past year at Single-A Frederick and went 5-2 with a 2.91 ERA in eight starts for the Keys. He moved to Double-A Bowie in late May, but after just two Baysox starts, he spent about five weeks on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Wright was 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA in 12 Bowie starts over 62 1/3 innings.
Overall, Wright went 10-5 with an ERA of 4.06 in 108 2/3 between the two clubs with just 22 walks to 80 strikeouts and with a batting average against of .279.
Orioles director of pitching development Rick Peterson paints a picture of a young man that has very good stuff on the mound, but who may, at times, be too hard on himself.
“Mike Wright had that disappointment with his leg injury this year and I think, because of that, it was a little bit of a setback,” Peterson said. “He went to the (Arizona) Fall League and struggled some in the Fall League. I think for Mike, even though he didn’t have all the performances he was looking for, it was a realization of this is what pro ball is all about. I think he will come back with a better idea of what it takes.
“Now we need him to stay healthy for a full year. Fortunately, it was a leg injury and not a big injury. But I look for him to mature mentally and emotionally and be able to control his emotions and realize this is a long journey.”
With the Baysox, Wright had an ERA of 12.00 in the first innings of his starts and it was 3.22 after that.
“Because he has such high-end talent, I think he needs to understand and just exhale here and enjoy the journey,” Peterson said. “It’s not about crossing the finish line yet. It’s a process. He’s a perfectionist and his expectations of himself are so high he got frustrated at times. The ceiling for him is very high.
“He has high-end velocity with late sink on his fastball and a plus changeup. His breaking ball was very inconsistent and he really battled with that.”
Wright garnered some attention last March when he pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts in a spring training game against the Yankees. He entered in the fourth inning and faced some of their top hitters.
Wright, who turned 23 on Jan. 3, was the Orioles’ third-round pick in 2011 out of East Carolina. No doubt the club remains very high on this right-hander and his future potential.
Wright did not post good stats in the AFL, going 0-5 with an ERA of 6.43 in seven games. Over 21 innings, he allowed 37 hits with seven walks and 15 strikeouts.
“Even though he didn’t have some results he wanted there, what you learn there is way beyond what your outcome was. You start to see different competition levels, you have teammates from different organizations and it can really be a maturing experience where you really reap the benefits coming into your next year,” Peterson said.
For more on Wright: In August 2011, two months after the Orioles drafted him, I interviewed Wright in Aberdeen. Click here for that interview.