Talking velocity with Mike Wright and a quick take on the Josh Donaldson deal

When the Orioles drafted right-handed pitcher Mike Wright in the third round out of East Carolina in 2011, they envisioned a big strong innings eater that has good velocity.

He is 6-foot-6 and throws a fastball that can touch the mid 90s, sometimes more. You can’t just teach that, and his size and velocity doesn’t grow on trees.

wright-mike-tides-sidebar.jpgA recent addition to the Orioles’ 40-man roster, Wright pitches with a wide range of velocity with his fastball, one that he said can vary about eight miles per hour from lowest to highest.

As with most pitchers that may add and subtract on purpose to disrupt a hitter’s timing, Wright said he also looked for a velocity that provides the best late movement on his pitches.

“A lot of people ask me why I don’t throw every pitch max effort,” Wright said. “I’ve tried that before and my top velo is not as good as it would be if I wasn’t putting 100 percent effort into it. I don’t know how many innings I could actually go - that is tough on your arm. When I am throwing harder, sometimes the sink disappears.”

Wright said late this past year he seemed to have a little extra velocity in the tank.

“I think it took a little bit of a step forward after the All-Star break,” he said. “I slightly changed some mechanical issues, but mainly it was working with Griff (Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin) and getting comfortable with my delivery. I was relaxing on the mound and relaxed muscles are more efficient muscles. When I was more relaxed and had fun, everything just flowed better. My off-speed got better, the velocity got better.”

Some of those fastballs touched 96 and 97 mph late in the year, and Wright had a very strong finish at Triple-A Norfolk. He pitched to 0.95 ERA over his last seven starts. In his last four starts, he gave up one earned run in 29 2/3 innings for an ERA of 0.30.

For the season, Wright went 5-11 with a 4.61 ERA in 26 starts for Norfolk. He was ranked as the No. 11 Orioles prospect by Baseball America after the 2011 season. Since then, he was ranked No. 8 after each of the past three seasons.

He was in major league spring training the last two seasons and he’ll be back in February as a 40-man roster member.

“This offseason, I want to go into camp very strong and very flexible,” Wright said. “Want to go in the best shape I can as far as my body and how I feel best when I’m pitching. Go in with my arm strength and endurance up just like it is the middle and end of the season. Every year, I seem to finish the season really well, so going to try to go into the season just as prepared as I am at the end of the year.”

Billy bawl?: Are Oakland A’s fans shedding a tear or two as they try to figure out what the heck is going on? General manager Billy Beane signed free agent Billy Butler for $10 million a season and then traded third baseman Josh Donaldson to Toronto. I’m confused as to just what the plan is in Oakland right now.

But this writer said it is business as usual in Oakland.

If this truly is about budget, I don’t completely understand the contract commitment to Butler, a player in a three-year decline in homers, RBIs, average, slugging and OPS.

What do you make of that trade?

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