T(y)rial and Error

The full-time adjustment from aluminum bats to their superior wooden counterparts often differs among young hitters just getting their feet wet in pro ball, and recent Cubs draft pick Ty Wright is hardly the exception.

Given that he has four years of college experience under his belt, the 22-year-old Wright has some understanding of how wooden bats work after spending two summers in the Cape Cod League getting acquainted to the wood in the midst of his college career at Oklahoma State.

Now Wright is swinging a wooden bat on a full-time basis for Class Low-A Boise in the short-season Northwest League and the outfielder's numbers to this point would indicate that he's handled the switch with relative ease.

Wright's .326 batting average is now second on the team behind catcher Mario Mercedes, who has nearly three times fewer at-bats. Furthermore, his on-base percentage has been above the .400 mark most all season.

Still, life isn't all peaches-n-Mark Grace.

"Its trial and error," he said. "In the summer leagues, you can have all the success you want and then once you go back to the metal bats and then try to jump back into the wooden bats, you're still going to have some struggles in the beginning, no matter how well you've adapted in the past."

Wright has had few struggles at the plate since arriving in Boise, particularly this month. Since July began, he's hit .364 and reached base at a .450 clip.

Learning how to get acquainted with the wooden bats on a permanent basis has also helped Wright's mindset at the plate.

"With the wooden bats, you learn which pitches with aluminum that you could swing at versus the ones you really can't swing at now," Wright said, adding that, "you've got to take those pitches and pick your pitches a lot better now. I think it helps your mindset to look for better pitches to hit instead of just swinging at everything like you could with an aluminum bat."

A right-handed batter, Wright is primarily a gap-to-gap style hitter who isn't likely to put up big numbers in the power department.

That's all well and good with the Tyler, Texas, native, whose only objective at the plate, he says, is to get on base – "anyway I can."

"I have a certain goal and mindset every at-bat so that whenever I get up to the plate, I get on base any way I can, even if it's a hit by pitch," Wright said. "Whatever it takes to get on base is basically how I approach it."

Cubs Scouting Director Tim Wilken, who has garnered something of a reputation for being a softie toward hitters, was impressed enough by that approach to select Wright in the seventh round of this year's draft.

Wright batted a team-best .405 in 53 games this past season at Oklahoma State. Since then, roughly one-third of his hits with Boise have gone for extra bases, and Wright currently has more walks (nine) than strikeouts (eight) through a span of 26 games/95 at-bats in Northwest League play.

"He has a short, uncomplicated swing," Wilken said of what impressed him about Wright. "He makes a lot of good contact and is a line drive, gap hitter that doesn't strike out very much. He competes well at the plate."

"The guy I could liken him to is Reed Johnson," Wilken said.

Out in the field, Wright is getting plenty of reps as well. He has started all but two games in left field – the position he primarily occupied in college.

In fact, for the first time in his career, Wright feels he is getting more work in defensively than in the batters box.

"It's nothing really major. It's just the little technique stuff we're working on right now that will help me get to balls better, get behind balls and do stuff properly," Wright said of his work in the outfield.

"It's more of just doing all that before the pitch is thrown to get myself ready to be in the right spot for whatever contact is made."

And now that he's in Boise, Wright has found that local residents kindly indulge in lending a friendly ear whenever the Cubs prospect reflects on one of his more recent favorite college sporting events: this year's Fiesta Bowl.

The underrated, under-respected and underestimated Boise State Broncos stunned top-ranked Oklahoma, 43-42, in overtime back on January 1 to claim a BCS victory and cap an undefeated 13-0 season.

Wright, while not overly anti-Sooner, admits that seeing his school's in-state rival take one on the chin was somewhat satisfying.

"OU is such a dominant powerhouse in football and they have kind of put it to Oklahoma State a lot lately," the Cowboy alumnus noted. "It was kind of shocking to see the OU faces. Nobody ever out-smarts them. When someone does, to see the shock on their face, it was real funny."

In Boise, Wright is also in the company of fellow Cubs fans.

He says he didn't have the slightest idea where he might be drafted, only that he "got lucky" in being selected by his lifelong favorite team.

"My grandpa was from Chicago so he had a big influence on me," Wright said. "Everybody used to tell me how bad they were, but now I think I'm starting to get some of them to move over a little bit."


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