The Wright Stuff

Turnover in the Cincinnati system has left Ryan Wright the Reds top remaining middle infield prospect. He made it to high-A Bakersfield late last season and started off slowly upon his return to the Blaze this season. That's changing now as his bat is heating up with a .400 average over his last ten games.

Bakersfield scored a couple of runs in the top of the fourteenth in an 11-9 win at San Jose. The game-winning rally came when Yovan Gonzalez and Ryan Wright led off the inning with singles and crossed on a hit by Yorman Rodriguez and a run-scoring groundout. Wright was no stranger on the base paths, going 4-8 with a couple of runs scored along with two RBI. The Blaze pounded 21 hits in the game with three each provided by Gonzalez, Dominic D'Anna, and Juan Silverio. Marquez Smith added two hits and a couple of walks and Steve Selsky stroked two singles. Juan Perez had two hits, a walk, and three RBI including a two-run homer in the third that put his team up 6-2. Gonzalez raised his average to .330 on the day and forced extra innings with an RBI single that capped off a two-run rally in the ninth.

The Cali League slugfest was not a good day for pitchers in general. Bakersfield starter Jake Johnson allowed four runs (three earned) in four innings. Pat Doyle relieved him and only gave up one across three frames. Jimmy Moran threw two-plus scoreless innings before Kyle Lotzkar came up big. In his second appearances since returning from Pensacola the converted starter tossed three scoreless innings for the win.

After a slow start to the season Wright has caught fire, going 16-40 (.400) over his last ten games and getting on base at a .489 clip while adding a few homers over that period. Perhaps the top middle infield prospect remaining in the Cincinnati development system right now, he's raised his season average to .244/.303 in 44 games.

This is the second go-around with the Blaze for the 23 year-old Wright after he was promoted from Dayton late last season. Previously he slashed .285 AVG/.343 OB/.424 SLG for the Dragons. He acquitted himself well in his 23 game high-A debut last year and is now showing signs that he's ready to taking the next step toward mastering this stage of his development.

Wright is a non-flashy, solid all-around player. Defensively he's one of the better fielders in the Reds system, maintaining a .978 fielding percentage and range factor of 4.72 assists+ putouts per game. All of his action has been at second base and he's giving his employer good reason to keep him there by committing only 21 errors in 195 professional games. His prospect status would be improved if he could show that he could handle shortstop well enough to keep a utility job at the MLB level, but right now he's projecting more as a regular with double-digit home run position from a middle infield position.

Wright was a fifth round selection in the 2011 draft out of the University of Louisville. He started to work on the field right after that in the short season and hit .300 in the rookie leagues. Previously the Fort Wayne native had played multiple positions collegiately, but was mainly used in the middle infield where he hit .350. He also played for the U.S. Baseball Collegiate National team in the summer of 2010.

Perhaps he could be considered an overachiever, but that still means he's an achiever. He's early in his career and has yet to play above the single-A level, but it appears that's only a matter of time. Perhaps the ceiling on his potential is lower than some other higher-profiled prospects, but then again his floor is higher. The Reds second base job is in good hands right now and Brandon Phillips hasn't shown any signs of slowing down at the age of 31. Wright is still at least a couple of years away from MLB-ready, but he'll likely have had time to build his case before the end of Phillips current contract. It's probably nothing he should spend much time worrying about now as he has more advancement to go. Now that his bat is coming around it's a harbinger that he'll likely see action at Pensacola before the end of the season.

Other Organizational News:

A two-run home run by Joey Votto in the eighth inning gave the Reds a 4-2 home victory over the Indians in the first game with their in-state rival this season. They jumped out to an early lead when their first hitter of the game, Shin-soo Choo belted a home run. Zach Cozart broke a tie in the sixth when he led off with a triple and scored on a sac fly by Phillips. Choo and Cozart had two hits each in the game with Cozart drawing a walk. Todd Frazier reached safely twice with a couple of walks. Mike Leake had another strong outing and allowed only one unearned run in the seventh inning before allowing a home run that tied the score in the eighth. Jonathan Broxton relieved him and retired two hitters at the proper time to give him the win. Aroldis Chapman struck out two when he retired the side in order in the ninth for the save.

Louisville lost a wild one at home to Columbus by a score of 13-11 in twelve innings. The Bats jumped out to an early lead from a two-run home run by Josh Fellhauer in the first inning. They continued to play long-ball with solo homers by Mike Hessman in the third and Felix Perez in the fifth. They forced extra innings with three in the ninth after the first four hitters in their lineup reached with three singles and a walk and scored three runs. They did it again the next inning when back-to-back doubles by Fellhauer and Neftali Soto plated three more. Fellhauer finished with three hits, two walks, four RBI, and three runs scored. Billy Hamilton got the job done leading off by drawing four walks to go with a hit and scored three times. Perez had two hits and a walk while Soto, Emmanuel Burriss, and Kristopher Negron added two hits each. Starter Daniel Corcino had another short outing and allowed five runs in three-plus innings before Curtis Partch and Nick Christiani held the Clippers scoreless over the next four-plus frames. Jose Diaz allowed two in one-plus innings for the loss and he was relieved by catcher Corky Miller who finished the extended affair.

Pensacola fell behind early and never threatened in an 11-1 loss at Chattanooga. Luis Durango had two of the five Wahoo hits and drew a walk. Tim Crabbe took the loss in his worst outing of the season, allowing six runs in three innings.

Dayton rode a three-run first inning rally to a 4-1 win at Great Lakes. Jeff Gelalich got the party started with a double and scored on a two-run double by Jesse Winker. Gelalich added some insurance when he led off the sixth with an infield single and later scored on Tanner Rahier's hit. He led the Dragon offense with three hits to raise his average to .275 while his former UCLA teammate Beau Amaral stroked two. Number three hitter Seth Mejias-Brean contributed two hits also and drew a walk. Starter Pedro Diaz got the win by allowing one run on four hits and three walks in five innings. Joey Housey, Wandy Peralta, and Sean Lucas combined for four scoreless frames of relief with Lucas picking up the save.

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