Back in 2006 we all were excited by the rapid rise of a 22 year old left handed pitcher by the name of Cole Hamels moving up the Phillies farm system. In no time Cole went from Lakewood, to Clearwater, to Scranton/Wilkes Barre after a total of only eight starts that year. We could not wait until he made it to help the woebegone Phillies at the time. Help he did. He went 9-8 in 23 starts to finish out the 2006 season for them . The Phillies lost out of a playoff berth by one game but that would be the last season the Phillies would fail to make the playoffs.
Today in Clearwater we had the opportunity to watch another 22 year old lefty Austin Wright win his third game in three appearances in the Threshers 4-2 win. Though Hamels and Wright might be similar in height, Wright must weigh 40 lbs. more than Cole will ever weigh. He struck out eight of the first ten batters he faced and ten overall in the five innings he worked. The Phillies 40 man roster guy Justin DeFratus pitched the first inning of today’s game on a rehab assignment. Wright was working with two extra days rests since his scheduled appearances were washed out by rain Friday and Saturday in Lakeland. The extra rest did him good as he dominated his first three innings of work after DeFratus.
While Hamels used his trademark change up to dominate in the minors, Wright has relied on an assortment of pitches to rack up his strike outs using his fastball, slider and two seamer. He did tire a bit in his last two inning of work giving up two runs and three hits but still was impressive. Set up reliever Tyler Knigge came in to pitch clean 7th and 8th innings and closer Lisalverto Bonilla came on to get his first save of the season retiring the side in order in the ninth for the Threshers 4-2 over the Brewers farm team, the Brevard County Manatees.
Wright’s 23 strike outs in 16 innings pitched so far this season leads the Florida State League in strike outs per innings pitched at 12..6 per nine innings. He has been the winning pitcher in three of the Threshers five wins this season. The Phillies drafted Wright as an eight round , 271st overall, in the 2011 draft out of Ole Miss. Last year he spent time in Williamsport and Lakewood where he went 4-3 in 14 starts striking out 85 in 68.1 innings.
I don’t expect Austin Wright to be pitching for the Phillies by mid season like Cole Hamels did in 2006 but I would not be surprised to see him pitch for the Reading Phillies before the 2012 season ends. He showed today he has too good of stuff to pitch much longer in the Florida State League. Right now Wright is the top left handed starter in the Phillies farm system after Sunday dominating outing.