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  1. Jim Henneman weighs in on the Houston Astros, a potential Junior Home Run Derby, Joey Rickard's chances to make the Orioles' lineup and more. https://www.pressboxonline.com/2016/03/28/jim-henneman-thoughts-observations-from-orioles-spring-training
  2. Here's a breakdown of the Orioles latest bullpen addition... Full Name: Dequam LaWesley Wright DOB: 1/28/85 Age: 29 Hometown: Montgomery, AL Bats/Throws: R/L Drafted: 7th Round, 2003 High School: Goshen HS (AL) Height: 5'10″ Weight: 185 Background: The Orioles signed Wesley Wright to a 1-year, $1.7 MM deal on Dec. 19, that includes a $50 K performance bonus if he appears in 60 games. A seven-year veteran now, Wright has found his groove the over the past four seasons, carrying a 3.25 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 123 ERA+, 8.5 K/9, and 3.2 BB/9 in 166.1 innings pitched. Wright was originally selected in the 7th round out of high school by the Dodgers, pitching mostly as a reliever in their farm system. He's a rule five success story, having spent his entire rookie season in the Astros bullpen in 2008 after they selected him from the Dodgers farm system. Strengths: Wright does an above average job with retiring left handed batters and should be a reliable LOOGY in the Orioles bullpen. Over his career, he has struck lefties out at a 26.6% clip along with an outstanding K/9 of 10.24. Lefties have posted a career slash line of .234/.315/.331 which may not be Andrew Miller-esque (sorry) but definitely enough to cut the mustard at the major league level. Fun Fact: Wright did not allow a single extra base hit to lefties last year in 85 plate appearances! Wright works with a low-90's two seamer that he loves to puns the bottom half of the zone with. He has averaged an excellent 52.6% groundball rate over his last four years, making him a good fit for Camden Yards. His best pitch is a his plus 83-85 MPH slider that sweeps and slightly changes planes late that he uses as his out pitch. He'll also work in an upper 70's sweeping curveball and a mid-80's changeup. Wright keeps his delivery simple, pitching from stretch with a high 3/4 arm slot. He repeats his mechanics well and has been durable throughout his career, pitching at least 48.1 innings of relief work every season since 2006. Weaknesses: Wright has a tendency to nibble which can lead to control problems, particularly against right handed batters. He has walked 4.62 batters per 9 innings when facing righties in his career as opposed to a 3.20 BB/9 versus lefties. His career K/9 also dips down to 7.40 versus righties. Despite favorable groundball rates, right handed batters haven't had too much difficulty squaring up Wright. He has allowed 30 home runs and a .479 slugging percentage to right handed batters in his career. In roughly the same amount of innings pitched to lefties, he's allowed just 7 home runs and a .331 SLG percentage. His changeup lacks ideal velocity separation, coming in roughly 5-7 MPH slower than his fastball. Command of the pitch is also erratic but he'll occasionally flash a plus one with late arm side fade to finish off a batter. Improvement in consistency and quality of this pitch could make him more effective versus righties. His sweeper curveball can get a bit loopy at times but is a decent change-of-pace pitch when spotted low in the zone. After posting K/9's above 9 the previous two seasons, Wright's K/9 plummeted to 6.89 in 2014. He remained effective, but still worth mentioning. Overall Outlook: Wright is a solid average big league reliever. His mediocre control has me hesitant to call him a viable late innings option, but he looks like a reliable LOOGY for middle innings work with - as it stands now - Brian Matusz likely being to go-to guy for a tough lefty later in the game. With Matusz projected for a $2.4 million raise, speculation has emerged that Wright could be a slightly cheaper replacement that allows the Orioles to market Matusz as a trade chip for another outfielder. We shall see if that is the case. Wright is set to hit free agency after the 2015 season. Ultimately, I expect he'll post his usual solid but unspectacular low-3's ERA with some upside to be more than that on the off chance he cuts his walk rate way down, given his strikeout stuff. (Special thanks to the Baltimore Sun, Fangraphs, video footage from MLB.com, and MLB Scouting Reports, for valuable info in putting this together)
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