Not too many pitchers in baseball at any level this season can say they have pitched two straight ten strikeout games in a row but the Clearwater Thresher’s Austin Wright can say just that. Wright was brilliant in his second straight ten strike out performance Friday night. In full command with all his pitches he gave up only two hits and one run in seven innings of work. Only in the fourth inning did he get nicked for the run and the two hits. Though he did not pick up a decision in the Threshers 4-3 win over the Daytona Cubs, this was his best and longest outing of the season.
Wright retired the first 11 batters he faced before giving up a two out walk to the Cubs Nelson Perez in the fourth. Shortstop Edgar Duran just missed picking up a ground ball single up the middle on the next batter, which scored Perez after he had stolen second base. Wright then went on to strike out the side in the fifth inning after Anthony Hewitt dropped another pop fly playing center as he did the night before playing in right.
In his first ten game strikeout on Sunday Wright lasted only five innings as he tired in his fourth and fifth innings of work. In this game he seemed to get stronger as the game went on striking out two of the final three batters he faced in the seventh inning. He left with a 3-1 lead which reliever Tyler Knigge was unable to hold giving up two runs in the eight. DH Chris Duffy drove in what tuned out to be the winning run in the bottom of the eight on a two out double off the top of the fence down the right field line scoring Hewitt all the way from first. Hewitt had drawn his first walk of the season just before Duffy’s blast. Impressive reliever Hector Neris came on to pick up his first save of the year pitching a clean ninth inning.
The way Wright is pitching it is hard to believe that the Phillies would keep the 22 year old lefty at Clearwater much longer. For the month of April he is leading the Florida State League in strikeouts with 33 in only 23 innings with a 3-0 record and a 2.35 ERA. Though Reading is off to a great start in the Eastern League, they have no left handed pitchers in their rotation. Two of their starters Julio Rodriquez and Jonathan Pettibone are a year younger than Wright and have ERAs over 4.00 right now at AA. They might benefit more from another year at high A Clearwater.
To me Wright seems ready to move up. Much like college pitchers from previous seasons such as Vance Worley and Michael Stutes who moved quickly up the Phillies system, so should Wright. The Phillies have no young left handed starters in the system at AA or AAA. For the month of April Austin Wright has shown that he is the best young left handed starter in the Phillies minor league organization. He should vie with Trevor May and Tyler Cloyd of the R-Phillies for the organization’s minor league pitcher of the month for April award.