Astros relief pitcher Wesley Wright celebrated his 28th birthday last week. Believe it or not, Wright is now the longest tenured member of the Astros roster. As pointed out in yesterday’s Houston Chronicle article, Wright is ready to step up and become an influential veteran on a young Astros team.
Wright was drafted straight out of high school by the Dodgers in 2003. The Astros selected Wesley in the Rule 5 Draft prior to the 2008 season and kept him on their roster for the entire year. Wright’s rookie season was somewhat of a mixed bag. He was effective at times, striking out more than a batter per inning and holding opposing hitters to a .212 batting average. Control problems proved to be his biggest weakness. His 5.5 BB/9 IP and 1.3 HR/9 IP led to an ERA of 5.01. Wesley showed some promise but it was obvious that more minor league seasoning was needed.
Wright spent the next three seasons ping-ponging between Houston and the minor leagues. In 2010 the Astros attempted to change his arm angle and turn him into a starter. It didn’t work. Back to his familiar relief role in 2011, Wright enjoyed some success at the big league level. Working mostly as a left-handed specialist, he allowed only six hits and five walks in 12 innings of work spread across 21 appearances.
Last season Wright spent the entire year in the majors, leading the Astros in appearances with 77 and registering a 3.27 ERA. Wesley lowered his walk rate to a career best 2.9/9 IP, helping him to post an impressive 1.185 WHIP. The reduced number of walks and the fact that he still struck out more than a batter per inning makes Wesley an interesting figure in the Astros bullpen for 2013.
Wright features a high-eighties to low-nineties fastball along with a slider and a curve. He has seemingly abandoned his use of the changeup due to the ineffectiveness of the pitch.
Last month Wesley was kind enough to do an interview with our very own John Burgess. That article can be found here.
Wright should be a fixture in the Astros bullpen again this season. His overall effectiveness could determine whether he is used as a left-handed specialist or in a more significant role. Who knows? We may even see him run out to rightfield while another reliever faces a right-handed hitter sandwiched between a pair of lefties. A lot of people complained when Brad Mills used that strategy a couple of times, but I loved it. Those people probably never heard of Whitey Herzog.