And now for something different: The Braves draft a (college) pitcher

Kyle Wright, collegian. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

For the third consecutive year, the Atlanta Braves of Hart/Coppolella/Bridges have drafted a pitcher No. 1. For the first time, that pitcher isn’t a teenager. He’s Kyle Wright, a right-hander from Vanderbilt. He went fifth overall. The Braves — according to Jim Bowden of MLB Radio — had him No. 2 (behind Brendan McKay, the two-way Louisville product who went fourth to Tampa Bay) on their board.

If that was indeed the case, the 1-0 victory over Detroit and Justin Verlander in Game No. 162 of last season made no difference. Had the Braves lost the Turner Field finale, they’d have picked second overall. Drafts are funny things, baseball drafts especially.

There’s a real chance that Wright, who’s 21, will reach the majors sooner than Kolby Allard, the Braves’ first pick in 2015, and Ian Anderson, their No. 1 draftee of last year. They were high-school arms. Neither has done a single thing to disappoint, but high-school arms take time. Wright is older and therefore a more finished product.

Wright hails from Vanderbilt, the same school that produced Mike Minor, whom the Braves took seventh overall in 2009. He was in the majors by August 2010, and there were moments when he seemed the real deal. He beat Zack Greinke in Game 2 of the 2013 NLDS. He had a 3.21 ERA and a 3.1 WAR value that year. Then he got hurt. He’s now a reliever with Kansas City, landing spot for all ex-Braves.

There are two schools of thought on college pitchers: They’ve grown into their bodies and know how to pitch, making them easier to project, but they’ve also worked more high-stress innings. The Braves’ first two picks in 2015 were high-school pitchers. Their first three last year were, too. Not this time.

I’m not sure this means the Braves have reversed course. I’d suggest all it means is that they really like Wright, whom had as the third-best player available and Baseball America had as second-best, and were thrilled he was around at No. 5.

This part hasn’t changed: Wright is a pitcher, another in a line now stretching from here to Hahira. Asked last year his plan for future drafts, scouting director Brian Bridges said: “Just keep banging those arms.” That sound you heard Monday night was yet another bang.

Reader Comments 0


I have to say that watching Foltynewicz  pitch is frustrating. I don't like his antics on the mound, I don't like his attitude, and his idea that he doesn't have to pitch because he can throw the ball 95-97 mph will get him back to Gwinnett. I don't see him ever being a good starting pitcher. I think the Braves should make him a closer or set up man. He just doesn't have the head to be a starter. Without checking statistics I would guess that 80% of the pitchers now have speed in mid to upper 90s.  Hitters turn 90s fastballs around like they would a change up. Without location that speed is not going to get a pitcher anywhere.....except back to the minors.


Where's th AJC's coverage on all our draft picks? Where's th coverage of all our minor league teams? You run meaningless stories everyday but very little for die hard baseball fans.


Projected Braves Lineup 2019

Inciarte CF          

Albies 2B

Freeman 1B

Riley 3B

Acuna RF

Maitan LF

Jackson C

Swanson SS


#1 Soroka

#2 Allard

#3 Wright

#4 Newcomb

#5 Gohara




Minter LHP

Foltynewicz RHP

Sims RHP

Fried LHP 

Cabrera RHP

Weigel RHP


Cumberland C

Demeritte IF

Peterson OF

Adams LHPB


Should have drafted Haseley from UVa, who went #7. Coppy does not have the guts to draft bats, it seems. Our pipeline is filled with pitchers and almost void of quality corner outfielders. Haseley will  be ready in a year or two. Instead we have a pitcher who did not even finish .500 this year and high school player who is 3-4 years off, if that. I've seen enough of Coppy- fire him and get Dayton Moore back in our fold. 


@JeffCriswell Keep an eye on Ronald Acuna OF currently on the AA roster in Mississippi.The 19 year old is drawing comparisons to Andruw Jones by some scouts . Acuna is batting .307 with 24 XBH and 39 RBI and he also has stolen 29 bases. 


Kyle Wright might make the September call up next season. Great movement on his pitches.


Draft pitchers, purchase position players.... The same strategy since before I was born.... Gee , that was certainly different.