For the third consecutive year, Braves scouting director Brian Bridges emerged from Atlanta's draft room prepared togush over an elite pitching prospect taken with the franchise's top pick.
Atlanta selected Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright, one of the draft's premier names, with the fifth overall selection on Monday night, adding to the organization's MLB-beststockpile of arms in the farm system.
The 6-foot-5 collegiate standout boasts a plus fastball that sits in the 93-95 mile-per-hour range that tops out at 97. His secondary pitches include a curveball, slider, cutter and changeup potentially giving him a complete arsenal to work with at the major-league level in the future.
Wright wrapped up his junior campaign in the Southeastern Conference with 121 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA in 103 1/3 innings pitched. He improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio in each of his three seasons on campus in Nashville, finishing his career striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings.
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The selection is a slight departure from the blueprint set in the first two drafts under the guidance of John Coppolella and John Hart a tunnel-vision focus on prep arms yielding the likes of Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, Ian Anderson, Joey Wentz and Kyle Muller.
Wright is the first college player Atlanta selected with its first pick since taking Jason Hursh out of Oklahoma State in 2014. Needless to say, Wright, who ranked first or second on nearly every draft board entering the night, offers much more upside at fifth overall. His availability was made possible by an early shakeup at the top of the first round with high-school shortstop/outfielder Royce Lewis going No. 1 to the Twins followed by Hunter Greene (Reds), MacKenzie Gore (Padres) and Brendan McKay (Rays).
Bridges said Wright, whowas the first college arm off the board, was the top name remaining on the team'sboard.