ATLANTA -- Three years after providing a financial demand that made it clear he intended to extend his academic and athletic development at Vanderbilt University, Kyle Wright finds himself right where he wanted to be -- as a member of the Braves' organization and the recipient of the largest signing
ATLANTA -- Three years after providing a financial demand that made it clear he intended to extend his academic and athletic development at Vanderbilt University, Kyle Wright finds himself right where he wanted to be -- as a member of the Braves' organization and the recipient of the largest signing bonus provided since Major League Baseball began using its current bonus pool system in 2012.
"I really don't know what I told the Braves I wanted coming out of high school," Wright said. "It was more about me being dead set on going [to Vanderbilt]. So yeah, it was probably a ridiculous number at the time."
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While Wright might not specifically remember the bonus request he made when he was coming out of high school without any realistic chance of being a first-round selection, he knows it wasn't anything close to the bonus he received -- $7 million, according to a source -- after reaching an agreement with the Braves on Friday, just four days after being taken with the fifth overall selection in this year's MLB Draft. The Braves have not confirmed the value of Wright's bonus.
Before Wright received this generous financial stipend to begin his professional career, the $6.7 million bonus the Cubs gave Kristopher Bryant in 2013 had stood as the most lucrative within the restrictions created by the current pool system.
"We felt he was the best player available in the Draft," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "With us picking [fifth], we felt very fortunate to be able to get this kind of impact player. We felt he was worth that price."
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Having grown up a Braves fan in Huntsville, Ala., Wright was thrilled with the opportunity to come to SunTrust Park with his parents for Friday night's game against the Marlins. As he walked into the home clubhouse, he was greeted by Dansby Swanson, a former Vanderbilt teammate whom the pitcher now refers to as a big brother figure.
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"It's finally starting to sink in a little bit," Wright said. "When I first got drafted, it was like a dream come true, but it didn't seem real. I've always wanted to play for the Braves, but I never thought I'd be fortunate enough to have it happen. It's something I've always dreamed about."
When Wright was coming out of Alabama's Buckhorn High School in 2014, he drew the attention of Braves scouting director Brian Bridges and Dustin Evans, who was scouting for the Mariners at the time. Now serving as the Braves' southern scouting supervisor, Evans was thrilled with the opportunity to follow the 21-year-old hurler as he recorded 121 strikeouts and issued 31 walks while posting a 3.40 ERA over 103 1/3 innings during his recently completed junior season at Vanderbilt.
Evans was present on April 14, when Wright notched 13 strikeouts during a three-hit shutout against the University of Florida, one of the eight teams currently competing in the College World Series.
"Since I started scouting, this was the best outing I've ever seen," Evans said. "He was like a knife going through warm butter."
Because Wright has already completed 103 1/3 innings during the collegiate season, Wright's workload will be closely monitored as he spends this summer getting used to pitching once every five days. He'll make a few starts for the Gulf Coast League Braves before likely ending the summer with Class A Rome.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.