By Contributing Writer: Chuck Boemmel Jr.
Norfolk Tides (Class-AAA) right-handed pitcher Mike Wright needs to step up his game if he desires to return to the Baltimore Orioles and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Photo: Baby Birdland's Nick Stevens
Tagged with the loss in game one on Thursday against the Buffalo Bisons (Toronto), Wright hurled 105 pitches over 5.2 innings of work. Facing 27 batters he surrendered two runs (earned) on seven hits while walking four and striking out three.
On the season Wright is 0-3 in five starts with a 5.79 ERA, 1.67 WHIP and a .295 batting average against. He has walked 11 and struck out 15 in 23.1 innings of work. Where Wright has struggled is the number of pitches he has thrown; he is currently averaging about 19 pitches per inning. He is throwing strikes at a 63% rate this season.
During Spring Training it was thought that Wright would be in the mix for the Orioles fifth starter this season. He does have one minor league option remaining so the thinking was that he could possibly be on the Norfolk shuttle this season. His numbers so far are underwhelming and for the time being will keep him on the Tides roster.
Wright, the Orioles #3 draft pick in 2011, landed in Norfolk on the heels of four Grapefruit League starts in which he earned a 0-0 record with a 8.38 ERA. The 27-year-old power pitcher must improve or his major league hourglass will run out of sand.
In 118 career minor league games Wright owns a 42-29 record with a 3.78 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and .265 BA against. These numbers did earn him two stints on the major league roster but they did not translate; his record in 30 MLB games is 6-9 with a 5.88 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and .285 BA against. What did not play well in OPACY was his 0.89 ground out to fly out ratio; success at OPACY relies on inducing ground ball outs.
I think at this point in his career Wright is your typical 4A player; too good for AAA and not exactly good enough for the majors. Wright needs to turn the ship around quickly if he wants to play with the big boys. There simply is too much depth and competition on the farm for the big club to promote based on potential. A likeable player, Wright has a lot of fans in Baltimore who want to see him succeed. How he pitches over the next few months will go a long way in determining how his story ends.