Orioles hoping Wright can provide boost in bullpen

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BALTIMORE — With Kevin Gausman still on the 15-day disabled list and slated to once again be stretched out as a starter, the Orioles have elected to turn to right-hander Mike Wright for help in the bullpen.

The 25-year-old was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday after Rule 5 pitcher Jason Garcia was placed on the DL with right shoulder tendinitis. He doesn’t figure to receive many high-leverage opportunities early, but the Orioles would like to have another power arm in the bullpen as Wright’s sinking fastball projects to sit in the mid-90s pitching in relief.

“There’s a lot of good options down there. It could be a short time; it could be a long time,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We felt like he would be here at some point. He’s another one that we think has a bright future for us, but it’s still the biggest jump in sports. You never know how that’s going to play.”

Wright doesn’t receive the same attention as top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey, but the 2011 third-round pick has been on the Orioles’ radar for the last couple years as manager Buck Showalter has periodically mentioned how he fared pitching in the minors. Despite underwhelming results for much of the 2014 season at Triple-A Norfolk, Wright excelled in his final seven starts when he posted a 0.95 ERA in 47 2/3 innings.

The 6-foot-6 right-hander followed that with an impressive spring for the Orioles, pitching to a 2.70 ERA with eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings of Grapefruit League action. Wright owned a 3-0 record with a 2.64 ERA in his six starts for the Tides this season, which included 30 strikeouts and nine walks in 30 2/3 innings.

In addition to his fastball, Wright possesses a solid slider, a changeup, and a curveball. While many project Wright to be a fringe starting pitcher in the majors, his velocity and pitch repertoire would appear to give him a reasonable chance to carve out a long-term relief role at the very least.

Whether Wright is ready to make meaningful contributions to the 2015 Orioles remains to be seen, but his body of work at Norfolk and in the spring warranted the opportunity he will now receive.