ATLANTA -- When Braves manager Brian Snitker informed Kyle Wright he was being sent back to Triple-A Gwinnett following Thursday night’s rough start against the Nationals, he allowed the heralded prospect to do some self-analysis.
“I didn’t really tell him a lot,” Snitker said. “I just had a nice talk with him. We’re putting a lot on a kid. He doesn’t have a whole lot of experience yet. He’s still learning. He’s a kid with a great upside. But he’s going through on-the-job training and experiencing things he’s probably never experienced before.”
As Wright, the Braves’ No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, allowed the Nationals seven runs over 2 2/3 innings Thursday, he struggled to command his fastball and was reminded big league hitters aren’t as prone to chasing breaking balls out of the zone. There might not have been any direct positives to take out of the outing. But any kind of experience can potentially prove positive for a young pitcher.
Pointing out Wright has made five MLB starts provides just a glimpse into his limited resume. The 23-year-old hurler has completed just 248 innings since the Braves took him with the fifth overall pick in the 2017 Draft. He simply needs more time to get a feel for how to best utilize his impressive arsenal.
Wright features two fastballs (a two-seamer and four-seamer), a slider, a curveball and a changeup. At some point the vastness of this repertoire might be quite valuable. Some scouts believe he would be better off placing his primary focus on just a few of these pitches at this point in his career.
But his struggles against the Nationals were primarily a product of not being able to command his four-seamer, which he used 36 times during the 64-pitch outing.
“I’ve just got to do a better job of making them beat me from the get-go and force them to put balls in play,” Wright said. “We’ve got too good of a defense to be walking guys. That’s the main thing, not trying to be so fine with that first pitch or the second pitch and try to stay out of those disadvantaged counts.”
Weigel was certainly feeling appreciative when the Braves promoted him from Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday. This first call to the big leagues comes a little more than two years since his promising 2017 season was cut short by elbow surgery.
“I’ve had to overcome so much more than I would have had to had it not happened,” Weigel, the club's No. 16 prospect, said. “I think it’s made me a better player, and it’s made me a better person.”
Weigel or Parsons will likely be sent back to Gwinnett when Kevin Gausman is activated to start Sunday’s series finale against the Nationals. Both would be capable of serving as a long reliever if necessary.
The Braves have brought Weigel along slowly, limiting him to less than five innings per start until June 24. But his sinker has regained its impressive life as he has limited opponents to a .190 batting average and .297 on-base percentage over his past four starts for Gwinnett.
“He’s been through a lot,” Snitker said. “If he hadn’t gotten hurt, I probably would have assumed he’d have been a part of this club right now. He was a really impressive young man before he got hurt and he’s been throwing really well.”