Wright Armed With A New Pitch

Lefty reliever Matt Wright added a slider to his arsenal to become more effective against left-handed hitters, a pitch that has proven to be devastating considering his microscopic 0.75 ERA against southpaw opponents. Wright developed the new pitch during Spring Training, but said he had initially intended on it being a cutter.

"I originally wanted a contact pitch to be able to throw when I'm behind in the count, but miss the barrel of the bat," said Wright, who is currently in his first season with the High-A Dunedin Blue Jays.

"Just, it wasn't a true cutter; I was having trouble with getting the velocity up on it. It was kind of sloppy as a cutter so I just decided to make it a little bit bigger."

With the recent addition, Wright, 24, now has four solid pitches to use on the mound. He features an 88-90 MPH fastball, low 80s changeup, mid 70s curveball, along with the new slider, which he said hits the low 80s.

"It's actually turned into a pretty good pitch for me," Wright stated about his slider. "It's good against left-handers. I had struggled in the past against left-handers because I didn't really have that pitch to throw to them."

Wright has had a strong year overall so far, with a 2-1 record and 1.78 ERA. Opponents are batting .207 against him, and to top things off, he's had command of the zone. He touts a strikeout to walk ratio of 31:6. He started 2011 off slowly, but has not given up a run in his last seven outings. Wright accessed his regular season so far.

"It's gotten better," he said. "I struggled at the beginning a little bit. I was going in and throwing too good of pitches early in the count and I wasn't ready for them, when I came out of the pen, to be swinging the way they were.

There are aggressive hitters out here, especially on the fastball, so I had to mix it up a little bit and it's working for me a little better."

Aside from the slider, another thing Wright has going for him is his effectiveness against both lefties and righties. While his splits to righties are much higher than they are to lefties, the numbers are still quite respectable. He holds a 2.70 ERA and a .245 opponent batting average against right-handed hitters.

Pitching Coach Darold Knowles said that Wright's ability to pitch to righties can be credited to his fastball. Wright likes to throw the fastball on the inside part of the plate to right-handers, but also can work in his other pitches successfully as well.

"He's got a good, sneaky fastball," Knowles said. "The one thing that makes Matt effective is he can pitch inside to right-handers real well. He spots the ball in there pretty [well] and against left-handers; he throws both the slider and the curveball."

In agreement, Wright contends that his slider is now his go-to pitch when looking for an out. He said, however, that when it comes to facing right-handers, his "out" pitch can vary.

"It depends on what I've thrown in that at-bat and how they've looked on certain pitches," Wright stated.

Wright, a 12th round pick by the Blue Jays in the 2008 amateur entry draft, has steadily worked his way up through the minor league system. After spending two years at Auburn in the New York-Penn League, he moved up to the Low-A Lansing squad in 2010.

Now with Dunedin to begin 2011, a strong season for the reliever could mean another promotion in the minors. Coach Knowles said that he isn't certain of Wright's timetable in the Blue Jays' system, but he expects Wright to be the guy to get called on if Double-A New Hampshire was looking for a reliever.

"It'd be nice if he did spend the whole year here," Knowles said. "It'd be nice for him, but you never know what the necessity might be at a higher level, and if they need a left-hander or need a middle reliever, then I think that's who they'd take."

Looking at the chance to move up higher through the system, Wright knows exactly what he needs to work on to propel his status as a prospect.

"The quickest way to move up is [to] be a lefty/lefty guy," he acknowledged. "They always need lefties to come in and get the lefties out, so that's really what I've got to focus on."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"I originally wanted a contact pitch to be able to throw when I'm behind in the count, but miss the barrel of the bat,\" said Wright, who is currently in his first season with the High-A Dunedin Blue Jays.
\r\n
\r\n\"Just, it wasn't a true cutter; I was having trouble with getting the velocity up on it. It was kind of sloppy as a cutter so I just decided to make it a little bit bigger.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith the recent addition, Wright, 24, now has four solid pitches to use on the mound. He features an 88-90 MPH fastball, low 80s changeup, mid 70s curveball, along with the new slider, which he said hits the low 80s.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's actually turned into a pretty good pitch for me,\" Wright stated about his slider. \"It's good against left-handers. I had struggled in the past against left-handers because I didn't really have that pitch to throw to them.\"
\r\n
\r\nWright has had a strong year overall so far, with a 2-1 record and 1.78 ERA. Opponents are batting .207 against him, and to top things off, he's had command of the zone. He touts a strikeout to walk ratio of 31:6. He started 2011 off slowly, but has not given up a run in his last seven outings. Wright accessed his regular season so far.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's gotten better,\" he said. \"I struggled at the beginning a little bit. I was going in and throwing too good of pitches early in the count and I wasn't ready for them, when I came out of the pen, to be swinging the way they were.
\r\n
\r\nThere are aggressive hitters out here, especially on the fastball, so I had to mix it up a little bit and it's working for me a little better.\"
\r\n
\r\nAside from the slider, another thing Wright has going for him is his effectiveness against both lefties and righties. While his splits to righties are much higher than they are to lefties, the numbers are still quite respectable. He holds a 2.70 ERA and a .245 opponent batting average against right-handed hitters.
\r\n
\r\nPitching Coach Darold Knowles said that Wright's ability to pitch to righties can be credited to his fastball. Wright likes to throw the fastball on the inside part of the plate to right-handers, but also can work in his other pitches successfully as well.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's got a good, sneaky fastball,\" Knowles said. \"The one thing that makes Matt effective is he can pitch inside to right-handers real well. He spots the ball in there pretty [well] and against left-handers; he throws both the slider and the curveball.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn agreement, Wright contends that his slider is now his go-to pitch when looking for an out. He said, however, that when it comes to facing right-handers, his \"out\" pitch can vary.
\r\n
\r\n\"It depends on what I've thrown in that at-bat and how they've looked on certain pitches,\" Wright stated.
\r\n
\r\nWright, a 12th round pick by the Blue Jays in the 2008 amateur entry draft, has steadily worked his way up through the minor league system. After spending two years at Auburn in the New York-Penn League, he moved up to the Low-A Lansing squad in 2010.
\r\n
\r\nNow with Dunedin to begin 2011, a strong season for the reliever could mean another promotion in the minors. Coach Knowles said that he isn't certain of Wright's timetable in the Blue Jays' system, but he expects Wright to be the guy to get called on if Double-A New Hampshire was looking for a reliever.
\r\n
\r\n\"It'd be nice if he did spend the whole year here,\" Knowles said. \"It'd be nice for him, but you never know what the necessity might be at a higher level, and if they need a left-hander or need a middle reliever, then I think that's who they'd take.\"
\r\n
\r\nLooking at the chance to move up higher through the system, Wright knows exactly what he needs to work on to propel his status as a prospect.
\r\n
\r\n\"The quickest way to move up is [to] be a lefty/lefty guy,\" he acknowledged. \"They always need lefties to come in and get the lefties out, so that's really what I've got to focus on.\"
\r\n
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