Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Will the real Steven Wright please stand up?

When I first heard that the Victoria Seals signed Steven Wright, I thought “What, the comedian?” But no, the Seals did not sign the professional funny man with the deadpan delivery of wickedly ironic jokes. I recently did some web surfing to see if I could quickly dig up some information on the baseball player named Steven Wright who recently joined the Victoria squad. It wasn't as easy as these things normally are.

After a few moments, I wondered if our new recruit was the 25-year-old Steven Wright who has pitched in the Indians organization for the past few seasons. But no, the Steven Wright signed by the Seals plays outfield. Then I thought that the player in question must be the 34-year-old Steve Wright from North Carolina who played outfield in the Mariners organization in 1998. Uh, no. Not that Steve Wright either.

It turns out that the Steven Wright who is now a Victoria Seal is the 26-year-old native of Henderson, Nevada who has spent the past three seasons playing in three different independent leagues. The 6’1”, 205-pound outfielder wasn’t drafted by a major league team after he played baseball for Lyon College, a small school in Arkansas that is a member of the NAIA. Wright had two outstanding seasons at Lyon College and he still owns the all-time single-season school record for doubles (27) and runs scored (77). In 2006, he even received honourable mention as an NAIA All-American.

Wright is a speedy outfielder with some pop in his bat. He hit .288 for the Alexandria Aces of the Continental Baseball League last season and clubbed six homers and 23 RBI in only 118 at-bats. He also stole bases at an impressive clip last season -- 16 in only 35 games. Over the winter, he played with Chris Bodishbaugh for the Space Coast Surge in the ill-fated Florida Winter Baseball League. In only 41 at-bats with the Surge, he hit .195 with one homer and four RBIs – not great for a league that was slightly below the Golden Baseball League in calibre.

This won’t be Wright’s first stint in the Golden League though. In 2007, he suited up for St. George and hit .294 with two homers and 28 RBIs in 177 at-bats. He also stole 13 bases in 17 attempts. In 2008, he spent a week playing for Reno in the Golden League before moving over to the Laredo Broncos of the United League. Wright only hit .241 for the Broncos, but he still hit five homers in only 162 at-bats. 

Wright goes into spring training battling Terrence McClain for the final starting spot in the Seals outfield (along with Colin Moro and Chris VanRossum). McClain has more professional experience than Wright and has played at the higher levels of independent baseball, so he probably has the inside track on the job. But anything can happen over the next three weeks and Wright can clearly play the game. It’s something to keep an eye on as spring training progresses.