ATLANTA (AP) — Pitcher Kyle Wright and the Atlanta Braves agreed to a minor league contract with a $7 million signing bonus, the highest in baseball since 2011.
A 21-year-old right-hander who pitched for Vanderbilt, Wright grew up a Braves fan in Huntsville, Alabama. As a freshman, he played alongside current Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft.
“He’s big brother to me,” Wright said Friday. “To see him was really cool. It brings back fun memories. I’m excited about it.”
Wright’s bonus, well over the slot value of $5,707,300, is the highest since restraints on signing bonuses began in 2012. The previous year, Gerrit Cole agreed to a $8 million signing bonus, and Stephen Strasburg and Bubba Starling agreed to $7.5 million each.
Under the system where teams are penalized for exceeding their assigned bonus pool, the largest amount had been Kris Bryant’s $6,708,400 deal with the Chicago Cubs in 2013.
Wright was 19-11 with a 2.78 ERA in 35 starts and 26 relief appearances at Vanderbilt with 290 strikeouts in 255 1/3 innings.
“He looks like a pitcher, a very impressive young man,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Wright, who is 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds.
Standing in the dugout wearing a new blue blazer, a starched white shirt and a Braves cap, Wright said he had a hard time believing how quickly his life has changed over the last few days.
“It’s very surreal,” he said. “I never thought I’d be here watching these guys work before they get ready to play a game is really cool. It’s a dream come true.”
Wright will report to the Braves’ spring training facility in Kissimmee, Florida, and is expected to be in uniform for a Gulf Coast League game in a couple of days.
Wright is the fifth Vanderbilt pitcher taken in first round in four years and the second Commodores starting pitcher drafted by the Braves in the first round, joining left-hander Mike Minor.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.
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