Wesley Wright, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Dodgers system, has successfully navigated his first MLB season with the Houston Astros. The 23-year-old left-hander has pitched 54 1/3 innings over 69 games and allowed opponents just 45 hits and a .220 average while striking out 53. He recently answered questions from MLBPLAYERS.com.
MLBPLAYERS.com: A big reason you are in the position that you are in right now is due to the work of a scout, Clarence Johns. Can you talk about what he has meant to your career?
Wesley Wright: He's the guy who did a lot of the early legwork during my high-school career to get the reports into the hands of the scouting directors for the Dodgers. He did all the stuff to put my name out there and get me drafted by the Dodgers in the seventh round. He's always been there to support me and my career, for as long as I can remember. He always took the time to call me and check in to see how I was doing.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How influential was he in your coming to Houston?
Wright: When he got over here with the Astros, he did everything he could to get me, and it's just worked out perfectly. Simply put, he's a great guy. He's a great evaluator of talent. He picked Russell Martin as well.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Being from a small town, do you feel like the right baseball people are seeing you?
Wright: At times you feel a little discouraged. I played a lot of ball in the summer with a traveling team where a lot of people got to see me play. However, very few people came out to my high-school games during the school year because we played in such a small town. It's just that we had to do some extra legwork to get my name out there to the big league clubs.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How do you describe your hometown of Goshen, Ala.?
Wright: It's about 15 minutes outside of Troy, which is a small town itself. It's mostly known for high school football. We never had any large-scale success in baseball. Our basketball teams were pretty good. I think I was the first player from my town to get drafted straight out of high school. I transferred there in the ninth grade. I actually attended school in Montgomery, Ala., prior to that.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Your given first name is Dequam. Have you always gone by Wesley?
Wright: I've always gone by Wesley Wright. My mom calls me Wesley. It's just something that I went with when I was much younger. Dequam LaWesley is just my birth name. Only a few people actually call me Dequam. I just go by Wesley.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Does your small stature limit you as a pitcher in any way?
Wright: I've always been a smaller guy. One thing that it's done for me is to always make me a competitor. When you're a smaller guy like me and you're constantly going up against guys that are bigger than you, it makes you fight that much harder to win. I think that's one thing that's made me stronger.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How does it feel that you have to work harder than most of your teammates?
Wright: I feel that every day I have to bring it harder than the next guy. I think it works to my advantage because, when I'm standing out there on the mound, guys really don't know what to expect. I try to use that to my advantage whenever I can. A lot of the guys in the league haven't faced me before, so they don't know what kind of velocity I have or the type of pitches I'm going to throw.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Have you always pitched in relief?
Wright: Since I was drafted, I've always been in a reliever role. I had a couple of spot starts here and there but nothing serious. I've been used as long and short relief. I've done a little bit of everything in the bullpen.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Is becoming a closer something you are striving to do?
Wright: To me, every inning that I'm out there on the mound feels like closing a game. It doesn't matter what inning it is to me. They are all save situations. That being said, if the opportunity came around where I had the chance to become the regular closer, I would be very excited. Right now I'm just getting my feet wet in the big leagues and figure out how to close the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. We have a great closer in Jose Valverde here right now, so I'm not really thinking about becoming the closer any time soon. It's been a great learning experience for me to watch the entire pitching staff here.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You started off the season so well. Did you expect such success so early in the season?
Wright: I really didn't know what to expect. I just wanted to come out here and compete. I wanted to show that I belonged here. Some of the time you can't control your wins and losses or your ERA. You just have to be able to control those things you can control. My main focus is competing and attacking the zone, being aggressive. So far it's worked for me, and I've been fortunate enough to get some wins. It's been a good experience so far. I'm just trying to go out there and get better each day.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Veteran teammate Doug Brocail called you "highly intelligent." How does that make you feel?
Wright: It's an honor, especially coming from Brocail. He's been around for a while and knows what he's talking about. We sit around and talk a lot in the bullpen, sharing our thoughts with each other. He's given me a lot of knowledge and lets me pick his brain to make me a better pitcher. That's all I can really ask for -- to be around guys who can share things with me and help me get better. Hopefully I can share something with him that will help him, even though he's been around a lot longer than me. You can always learn something from each other. We just try to help each other in the bullpen, and as a unit you have to communicate.
MLBPLAYERS.com: As a pitcher in the National League, you might one day swing the bat. How are you at hitting and are you looking forward to your first Major League at-bat?
Wright: I wouldn't say that I'm a hitter by any stretch of the imagination. I just go up there and swing. If I get a hit, I'll be excited, but my main goal is not to embarrass myself.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.