Brett Wright had an isolated power mark of .213 with Vancouver in 2018.
2018 Vancouver Canadians catcher Brett Wright takes his turn behind the plate in this installment of C’s Chat.
The 6-foot-tall backstop hails from New Caney, Texas which is about 30 miles north of Houston where he grew up rooting for the hometown Astros. Wright played baseball and football at New Caney High School where he was a three-year letter winner on the gridiron but it was on the diamond where he shone brightest. He won All-District honours three times as well as District Newcomer of the Year in 2011 and back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year honours in 2013 and 2014. The right-handed hitting Wright also batted .429 with 20 runs batted in over 23 games during his sophomore year.
Wright says he became a catcher just before becoming a teenager and says he likes being in the middle of the action.
“I think I was about 12. I used to play shortstop and then one of the catchers got hurt. My Dad made me catch and I kind of stuck with that.
Being in every play and always having the ball in your hand, catching the ball. I can’t just sit still for so long, I got to be doing something so it keeps me in the game. I’m in every pitch and catching every ball. I can tell everybody like how (to position themselves). I just like being in every play.”
Brett Wright recorded a hit in five of his last eight starts with Vancouver in 2018.
JUCO in San Jacinto
Wright went to San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas in 2015 and enjoyed a solid freshman campaign in which he hit .284 with three home runs and 17 RBI. However, he wound up breaking a finger in his catching hand and that put him on the sidelines for 2016. In his 2017 return, Wright slashed .272/.420/.448 with four homers and 25 runs batted in and threw out eight of 16 basestealers who tried to run on him. That performance earned Wright his second berth on the NJCAA Region XIV All-Conference team. He helped the Gators reach the Junior College World Series in his two seasons there. One of the members of the 2017 San Jacinto coaching staff was former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Woody Williams, a volunteer assistant coach.
Wright says his juco experience helped him grow personally and professionally.
“It was definitely a big learning experience, especially going away from home for the first time even though it wasn’t very far. To kind of live on your own and you’re in a town where there’s really not much to do so you just hang out with your teammates. You learn to really how to bond with your team and that’s really what I think helped me the most through my college and pro career. You learn how to deal and even if there’s not stuff to do, you find stuff to do with each other and kind of find some new best friends so that’s what I got from that.”
Brett Wright threw out 38 percent of the baserunners who tried to steal on him in 2018.
Eye of the Auburn Tiger
Wright would go on to Division I baseball with the Auburn Tigers in 2018. He made 59 starts behind the plate, slugging .483 with 25 extra-base hits that included 11 home runs. Wright says he was grateful to get the opportunity to play in the Southeast Conference.
“I was excited. I just saw an opportunity and just took it. They were the only team that gave me an offer so I just took it and ran with it and it got me here (to Vancouver) so I am thankful for that.”
It was fun. I got to play on TV every day and that was always my dream when I first started playing baseball. I got to catch the number one overall pick (Casey Mize) and that was another cool experience for me. I learned a lot at Auburn and what it takes to how to be a professional and it kind of got me ready for pro ball.”
Auburn advanced to a super regional round for the first time in 19 years by winning the Raleigh regional. Wright and the Tigers missed out on a College World Series berth when the Florida Gators outlasted them in the Gainesville Super Regiona with an extra-inning walk-off win. By the end of the year, Wright found himself batting in third spot in the Tigers orders.
It was during the NCAA Tournament when Wright was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 26th round of the 2018 draft. That was just two rounds after the Jays selected his 2017 San Jacinto teammate in righthander Mike Pascoe.
“I was at practice. We were getting ready for a regional. The coach took our phones and said, ‘Hey, we’ll let you know if you get drafted.’ I remember I was sitting there. I couldn’t wait. I just wanted to know so as soon as practice was over, I ran and got my phone. I went into the tunnel and saw I got drafted. I just called my parents and told them how happy I was and stuff like that.
I’m from a small town and not many people get the opportunity to play college ball or get drafted. I think really the only person was Adam Dunn (who also attended New Caney High School), he played in the major leagues, but just like having a lot of support at home, I felt like I made a lot of people proud and happy so it meant a lot to me.”
Wright says getting to catch Auburn teammate and first overall pick Casey Mize played no small part to also being drafted.
“From the first time I caught him, he was definitely the best pitcher I ever caught. It was just so easy for him. He made us all better athletes and better players definitely. All the guys that got drafted, it probably wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for him so I’m thankful for that opportunity. I just wish him the best of luck.”
Wright also credits his coaches in helping him advance in his career.
“I haven’t really had one that just stuck out. I kind of used all of my coaches. Everywhere I go, I kind of find a coach and they just kind of help me get through and we’ll talk. I’ll reach out to old coaches I had and talk to them. I kind of just combine them all. I don’t like losing contact with some of the people I really enjoyed having and really helped me so I try to keep in contact with all those guys.”
Brett Wright committed just two errors in 17 starts behind the plate for the C’s in 2018.
Heading to the Pros
After receiving a $100,000 signing bonus, Wright made his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays June 23.
“It was definitely a big difference and a culture shock. Waking up at 6:00, that was all normal but playing games at noon with five fans, it was a lot different than what I was used to at Auburn. I was really excited and it didn’t really matter, I still felt like I was playing in front of 10,000 people because I was just excited to be a professional athlete and play the game some more. Yeah, it was definitely a big difference now that I sit back and think about it.”
After a two-game stint in the GCL, Wright was called up to Vancouver. He collected his first professional home run and added another hit and a walk to help the C’s knock off Salem-Keizer June 29. His second home run opened the scoring in a shutout win over the Volcanoes July 2. His third home run jump-started a Vancouver comeback against Hillsboro July 21 to keep their first-half playoff hopes alive.
Another season highlight came July 27 for Wright when he drew a pair of walks and threw out a pair of runners on the basepaths in a 5-1 win over the Eugene Emeralds. Wright admitted he had extra motivation in throwing out his second runner of the night.
“I wanted a shutout and the guy (Fernando Kelli) hit a double and so I was kind of upset about that. I kind of saw him get a little too excited over there. Being a catcher, you’re always looking for outs to help out your pitcher. I think we were behind in the count, 3-0, and I just saw an opportunity and I made an out and it was big for us.”
Wright’s throwing out of Kelli turned out to be huge for C’s teammate Tanner Kirwer as both Kelli and Kirwer finished the season as co-winners of the stolen base title in the Northwest League with 28 apiece.
Brett Wright hit the third-most home runs on the Vancouver Canadians with five in 2018.
Baseball America called Wright “a dependable defender. He calls his own games, receives well and has an average arm.” When asked to provide a scouting report on himself, Wright considers himself to be a good clubhouse presence.
“Definitely a big locker room guy. Just a guy that’s going to get along with everybody and keeps it loose. Kind of a grinder, I’d say. Just a guy you’d always want to have around and you can always enjoy to be around.”
Wright says one of the early challenges upon arriving in the Blue Jays system is working with a new set of pitchers.
“It’s difficult at first because they don’t really trust you yet. You don’t really know what they do. Once you catch a guy for a while, you know like in certain counts, what he likes to do. ‘Hey, he’s probably going to throw this ball in the dirt. Be ready to block it.’ When you first catch him, you don’t know and you always got to be ready for everything.”
Wright says there are a number of areas where he has to keep improving.
“I definitely got to keep getting better everyday. I can be a little better offensively, work on my opposite field hitting game instead of just being dead-pull. Definitely learn more about the game and how to work with pitchers. That’s something that I’ve learned since I’ve been here is how to read pitchers, how to read hitters and just to think one step ahead and make the game a little slower for me.”
Wright says he has learned a lot from Blue Jays catching coordinator Ken Huckaby and C’s position coach Jose Mayorga.
“I worked with Huck when I first got here for a couple of days and now we have Jose Mayorga. He’s really helped me with my game and he’s helping all three of our catchers and making us better every day. He’s definitely teaching us a lot so I’m happy to have him.”
The 23 year-old Wright says he just wanted to soak up as much knowledge as he could in his first season in pro ball.
“I definitely just wanted to get my feet wet and just more reps of seeing like how things work. Everyday I learn more about pitch selection when I’m calling it and then reading hitters.
I mean, stats don’t really matter for me right now. I just need to get my feet wet as this is my first year of pro ball. I’m still learning a bunch of new things.”
Wright will look to get his first taste of full-season baseball in 2019 with the Lansing Lugnuts.
My thanks to Brett Wright for taking part in the latest C’s Chat and my thanks again to Media Relations Assistant Sharlene Canning in setting up the interview.