Wright looks Too Small but Watch His Heater

<b>VERO BEACH, Florida</b>-- When Wesley Wright goes to the mound, he's used to the uninitiated fan wondering if he isn't one of those underage Dominicans he's heard about or, maybe, the team in desperation, is using the bat boy.

For Wesley is listed at 5-11, 160. The poundage seems about right; the height, somewhat generous. With his youthful face, he looks like he's about 14, not the 20 he actually is.

Daquam La Wesley Wright -- to use his full name -- is used to battling notions about his age and size. Particularly, his size for it's an axiom in the game that pitchers under six feet in height simply will never throw hard enough to be successful. Such notions caused some scouts to shy away from him back home in Alabama but Clarence Johns, then of the Dodgers, saw enough of his arm strength to be convinced he could make it in the pro game so L.A. picked him in the seventh round of June 2003 draft.

The thought that he had to prove his case led Wesley into some troubles last summer. He had been throwing extremely well in the extended spring camp but when assigned to Ogden at the start of the Pioneer League season, he admits, "I tried to put everything on every pitch. I got outside myself and got hit."

That he did, being roughed up considerably. But he backed off, settled down and, more and more, learned that he could come in, pitch naturally and get outs. Pitching naturally means moving the ball around but don't get the notion that he's strictly a soft-baller. No, he can get his heater up into the 90's and complements that with a sharp curve and solid change-up.

He had enough to go 3-1, 3.58 with 26 strikeouts in 37 innings in his pro debut with the Gulf Coast Dodgers. The next spring they worked with him on converting to a more drop-and-drive style to maximize his pitches. It was that he used to bring his Ogden record to 3-3 and more than half his ERA to a still-not-pleasant 6.29 by season's end.

But he knows that is faced with more obstacles. "I expect I'll have to prove myself all the time because of my size," he allows. "I'm used to that."

He'll get that chance to demonstrate what he can do at a higher level for he's now with Columbus, a low A club. He's a hard worker who stays in shape and learns well. He has to be as a little guy playing a big man's position. All he asks is that he be judged by the results.