ATLANTA -- As fellow talent evaluators continued saying Vanderbilt University right-hander Kyle Wright might be available when it came time for him to make his first selection, Braves scouting director Brian Bridges skeptically wondered if he really would have a chance to take arguably the best available player in this
ATLANTA -- As fellow talent evaluators continued saying Vanderbilt University right-hander Kyle Wright might be available when it came time for him to make his first selection, Braves scouting director Brian Bridges skeptically wondered if he really would have a chance to take arguably the best available player in this year's MLB Draft.
Thus, it's easy to understand why Bridges and other members of the Braves' front office were elated when they took advantage of the chance to select Wright on Monday night, with the fifth overall selection in the Draft.
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"It's far-fetched when you get the guy who is still on the board who shouldn't still be on the board who is advanced for his age," Bridges said. "He brings everything we want to see. He was definitely No. 1 on our board, so we feel really good about where we are."
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While growing up in Huntsville, Ala., as the son of a mother who works for NASA and a father who doubled as his high school baseball coach, Wright became a devout Braves fan. He passed on the opportunity to be drafted by his favorite organization out of high school because he wanted to mature both mentally and physically at Vanderbilt. But he was thrilled to have this second chance to realize his childhood dream.
"There really couldn't be a more special or prouder moment for me right now," Wright said. "I'm just very thankful for everybody who believed in me and proud to be part of this great organization."
Over the past couple of weeks, many prognosticators predicted the Twins might take Wright with the first overall selection. But once Minnesota's front office turned its attention toward Louisville University's Brendan McKay (taken by the Rays with the fourth pick) and ultimately chose Royce Lewis, it became apparent the Braves would likely have a chance to strengthen their pitching-rich system with one of this year's most attractive jewels of the Draft.
Wright learned of the probability of landing with the Braves about an hour before the Draft began.
"It was almost like I wasn't expecting anything at all, because to actually hear your name called is really special," Wright said. "There are a lot of people to thank who have helped me get where I am today."
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It remains to be seen where Wright will begin his professional career. But he has the potential to rise quickly through the Minor Leagues and soon join former Vanderbilt teammate Dansby Swanson on Atlanta's roster. Swanson sent the pitcher a good luck text last week.
Wright possesses a pair of plus breaking balls (curveball and slider) and a plus fastball that touched 97 mph this year. The 21-year-hurler recorded 121 strikeouts and issued 31 walks while posting a 3.40 ERA over 103 innings this season.
"Throwing him into the fold, being more advanced than where we are now, I think is a total benefit to our organization," Bridges said. "You can never have enough pitching. Definitely when you can add a horse like this to the stable, we're very happy."
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.