In one of her more recent blog posts, Alyson Footer devotes a few paragraphs to Wesley Wright and the possibility that he could be included as a starting pitcher on this year's team. At this point, I would consider him a long shot's long shot, but if he came out of the woodwork with solid performances this spring I won't complain.
Manager Brad Mills is going to give him his opportunities, which isn't really saying much, as guys like Roy Corcoran, Gary Majewski, Josh Banks and Casey Daigle have already pitched for the Astros this spring. Someone with the upside that Wright does should be force fed into as many conceivable roles as possible on a team like this. Footer notes that the rotation is awfully thin but it's not as if the bullpen is composed of five star studs either.
What Wesley Wright can offer is someone who has shown a tremendous ability to strike batters out, though his walk totals are scarily high. It appears that MLB has wiped the 2009 Dominican Winter League stats off the face of the earth, but if memory serves his K:BB rate in just over ten starts was right around 2:1. Not terrible by any stretch, but to be a major league caliber starting pitcher this will have to improve.He is projected to do decently well this season in a relief role, which is most likely where he ends up.
If I can make a track and field comparison here, it seems like Wesley Wright is the baseball equivalent of a middle distance (800m/1600m) runner. These are the athletes who aren't sprinters, but aren't distance runners either. However, in a pinch a good middle distance runner can run a leg on the 400m relay team, or even jump up and run a distance event if necessary. Athletes like these are prized because their abilities translate better into the non specialty events better than anyone else's do. Maurice Greene was a tremendous 100m runner, but he would have struggled to run the half mile. Same for someone like Dathan Ritzenhein who is an other worldly distance man who probably couldn't fill in all that well for a miler.
Wesley Wright could be our middle distance runner. True, he has the pure strikeout stuff to be a more than competent relief pitcher, but he also throws four pitches (three with regularity) and with improved control could move into the starting pitching conversation for the Astros.
Polin Trinidad doesn't appear ready for the majors, and neither does Wilton Lopez. Fernando Abad is an interesting case in that he is sort of the anti Wright with his dominant control. The Astros are wise to give all these pitchers their shots to impress because come 2011, these are the names this team is going to lean on to bridge the gap to the Jordan Lyles/Ross Seaton (hopefully)/Tanner Bushue generation. Wesley Wright belongs in this group of next generation pitchers, and while his role is undetermined, throwing him overboard to sink or swim in whatever role the Astros can think of is wise in my opinion.
This past weekend saw the city of Houston and Minute Maid Park play host the the Houston College Classic, an annual event which showcases some of the best collegiate baseball teams from the state of Texas as well as the Missouri Tigers. Texas and Texas Christian are both top ten caliber teams, while Rice, U of H and Texas Tech are more than respectable clubs to say the least. Baseball America blogged the Classic, covering such topics as Rice coach Wayne Graham laying into his team for poor fundamentals, the Cougs upsetting UT, and almost Texas Ranger Matt Purke impressing in his start for TCU.
Texas is well known for it's history of producing a great deal of talent in college football, but our state's collegiate baseball talent is first rate as well. True, Texas is large and more universities than most states, but the quality of teams is excellent and often produces more per capita major league draftees than would normally be expected. Diamond Futures prospect guide has a top 100 pre season amateur draft chart has six players from TX schools as top 100 talents: (18) Brandon Workman, RHP, UT; (24) Chad Bettis, RHP, Texas Tech; (27) Ricky Hague, SS, Rice; (41) Michael Choice, OF, UT-Arlington; (64) Cameron Rupp, C, UT; (83) Dallas Gallant, RHP, Sam Houston St. Throw in another three players on the list who are Texas high school student athletes, and the Lone Star State is well represented at the highest levels of amateur baseball.