Lefty reliever Wesley Wright is the subject of our final installment in the player profile series. Wright turns 27 later this week and will be entering his fifth season with the Astros. Wright was selected from the Dodgers’ organization by Houston in the Rule 5 Draft prior to the 2008 season. Although his numbers were nothing special, Wright was kept on the big league roster for the entire season but has seen some action at the AAA level in each of the last three seasons.
At 5 feet 11 inches and 180 pounds, Wright lacks the size of a typical big league pitcher. He has struggled with his control and has averaged more than 4.5 walks per nine innings throughout his career. Those are just a couple of the reasons why I have never been sold on Wright as a prospect. The fact that his average fastball velocity has steadily declined over the past three seasons should also be a reason for concern. Working strictly as a lefty specialist last season, Wright’s average fastball velocity was 88.3 mph. That’s down from the 91.2 mph. average he posted in 2008 and again in 2009. Wright pitched only 12 big league innings last year but was quite successful in his limited role. Still, I’m not going to get excited over such a small sample size. Wright’s career numbers are still pretty ugly.
The Astros attempted to convert Wright into a starter in 2010 with less than desirable results. In 14 AAA starts Wright posted a WHIP north of 1.5 and his strikeout ratio plummeted. If Wright is to stay in the big leagues it will most likely be in the role of lefty specialist. Sergio Escalona should be the primary lefty in the Astros bullpen in 2012. Wright could make the team in the aforementioned role. The Astros roster is not very deep when it comes to lefty relievers. Fernando Abad and Xavier Cedeno look to be Wright’s primary competition for the role. Don’t be surprised if the Astros add a couple of non-roster veterans to the mix before camp opens.