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Notes: Wright's maturity; Riley keeps mashing

@mlbbowman
March 6, 2020

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- After limiting damage during the third inning of the Braves’ 7-5 win over the Red Sox on Friday afternoon, Kyle Wright acknowledged he likely would have garnered far less favorable results last year. “I feel much more comfortable and much more mature out there on the

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- After limiting damage during the third inning of the Braves’ 7-5 win over the Red Sox on Friday afternoon, Kyle Wright acknowledged he likely would have garnered far less favorable results last year.

“I feel much more comfortable and much more mature out there on the mound,” Wright said. “In that [third] inning when I did give up two runs, I feel like last year that could have easily led to four or five [runs]. The confidence is just that much better. I feel like I’m in much better command of all my stuff.”

Wright cruised through the first two innings of Friday’s outing and then allowed three hits, including a Michael Chavis double, during Boston’s two-run third inning. The Braves' right-hander struck out Bobby Dalbac to end the inning and then concluded his outing by retiring the only batter faced in the fourth.

On a day when he struggled to command his two-seamer, Wright still managed to limit the Red Sox to two runs and three hits over 3 1/3 innings. His bid to complete four innings was erased as his pitch count steadily rose while he began to consistently fall behind hitters.

Wright has surrendered five hits, allowed two earned runs, recorded 12 strikeouts and issued two walks while totaling 8 1/3 innings over his first three appearances this spring

The 24-year-old prospect’s results are similar to what they were to this point last year, when he surrendered eight hits, allowed two earned runs, recorded 11 strikeouts and issued two walks in eight innings over his first three appearances.

As Wright finds himself competing with Félix Hernández and Sean Newcomb for the final two spots in the Braves’ rotation, he is attempting to prove that he is much more advanced than he was last year, when he flourished during the early part of Spring Training and then showed he wasn’t quite ready for the Major League level.

Braves manager Brian Snitker saw Friday’s outing as proof that Wright has matured as a pitcher over the past year.

“You’re not going to be real sharp all the time,” the manager said. “But if you can limit damage, you give your team a chance to come back or stay in the game. That is huge for a young guy.”

The Braves’ desire to have Wright pitch on the main field led Max Fried and Ian Anderson to get their work in during a simulated game against Atlanta's Minor Leaguers. Fried is secured a rotation spot and Anderson is not quite ready to be considered a viable candidate for a big league rotation spot.

Another Riley dinger
Austin Riley is creating reason to think maybe it would be worth ignoring the age-old thought that you should not allow yourself to be fooled by Spring Training stats. The young third baseman overpowered Friday's strong wind when he hit a line-drive homer over the left-field fence in the fourth inning.

Riley has a double and two homers over his past three games, and the 22-year-old slugger has struck out in just four of 21 at-bats since the start of the Grapefruit League play.

After Riley struck out in 42 percent of the plate appearances he tallied over last season’s final three months, it was easy to assume he would start this season with Triple-A Gwinnett then possibly make a quick return to the Majors. But he is keeping things interesting as he battles Johan Camargo to begin this year as Atlanta’s third baseman.

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“He’s doing some really good things,” Snitker said. “I’ve been very impressed with where he’s at.”

Roster moves
Right-handed pitchers Bryse Wilson and Jacob Webb were among the 14 players affected when the Braves made their first spring roster moves on Friday. Wilson was hoping to bid for one of the two rotation vacancies. Webb’s bullpen bid ended once it became apparent he needs more time to recover from the elbow surgery he underwent in September.

Wilson, Webb and fellow right-handers Jasseel De La Cruz and Huascar Ynoa were the 40-man roster members optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. The non-roster invitees reassigned to Minor League camp were right-handed pitchers Kurt Hoekstra and Connor Johnstone; left-handed pitchers Kyle Muller and Thomas Burrows; infielders Bryce Ball and Braden Shewmake; outfielders Greyson Jenista and Trey Harris; and catcher Carlos Martínez.

Braves new 2020 Top 30 prospects list

Ball made the most of his first Spring Training and provided reason to believe the Braves might continue to draw value from the decision to select him in the 24th round of last June's Draft. The 21-year-old left-handed slugger has great power potential and he impressed the coaching staff with his willingness to work on improving his defense at first base.

Up next
Freddie Freeman is scheduled to get three plate appearances when the Braves host the Rays on Saturday afternoon at CoolToday Park. Freeman will be playing in back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 25, when he was shut down for a week with right elbow inflammation. Mike Foltynewicz will be making his third spring start after he allowed three runs over just 1 1/3 innings in last weekend's start against the Red Sox. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET, live on Gameday Audio.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.