Giants select Wright in 12th round of MLB Draft

Giants select Wright in 12th round of MLB Draft

Fresh off outstanding junior year at Bryant, former Cumberland High All-Stater sets sights on pro career

CUMBERLAND – For Chris Wright, a lifelong dream came true early Wednesday afternoon.

On the third and final day of the Major League Baseball Draft, which featured the 11th through 40th rounds, the former All-State standout and 2016 graduate of Cumberland High was drafted in the 12th round with the 356th overall pick by the San Francisco Giants.

Wright had spent the past few days glued to MLB.com to see if a club sought his services. He admitted that he was “a little bit disappointed” when his named wasn’t called late Tuesday afternoon after the third through 10th rounds came and went, but his mood obviously changed at 12:30 p.m. when the Giants called him name.

“I’m sure excited to get the opportunity to go out and play,” said Wright, who just got off the phone with Bryant head coach Steve Owens. “I’ll be signing a contract in the next couple of days, and then I’m assuming I’ll be sent to short-season ball, and I think that’s in Oregon.”

If Wright is correct, he will be suiting up for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Keizer, Ore. The Volcanoes play in the eight-team Northwest League; Lincoln's Nick Zammarelli, who is currently playing for the Seattle Mariners' Double-A team, the Arkansas Travelers, began his pro career in this league in 2016 as a member of the Everett AquaSox.

A week and a half ago, Wright wrapped up an exceptional junior year as a first baseman/closer for the Bryant University baseball team, a season that saw him earn numerous honors, including his latest one last Thursday when he and Bulldogs’ ace pitcher Steve Theetge earned Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s All-America Third-Team honors.

With his third year with Bryant in the books, Wright became eligible for the MLB Draft. After taking part in a pre-draft workout hosted by the Boston Red Sox last Thursday at Fenway Park, Wright enjoyed a stress-free weekend before turning his focus to this week’s draft, which began on Monday night with the first two rounds and resulted with Wednesday's selection.

“It’s unbelievable,” Wright said on Wednesday. “Just hearing your name get called – not everyone gets to hear that, and I understand how lucky I am. This is awesome.”

Wright’s stock in the draft certainly rose after he put together a truly remarkable season not only at the plate – in 60 games, the cleanup batter hit .297 with 14 doubles, 45 runs scored, six home runs, a career-high 51 runs batted in – but also on the hill in his new role as the Bulldogs’ closer.

And Wright was dominant.

In 21 appearances that covered 34 1/3 innings, he went 1-1 with 13 saves, which tied the program’s record, a 2.36 ERA, and an astounding 63 strikeouts, and he only allowed 16 hits. The southpaw served notice at the start of the season that he indeed was going to be something special when he whiffed 18 of the first 25 batters he faced.

“It was an awesome experience for me this year to go out there and do it,” added Wright, who earlier in the season, was named to the NCBWA’s Stopper of the Year watch list. “It was just another way that I could help the team out, and at the same time, it was fun to go out there and pitch and help us win a game at the end.”

Because of his success both at the dish and on the mound, which is a rarity among Division I collegiate players, Wright was named a semifinalist for the prestigious College Baseball Foundation’s John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year award.

“It definitely wasn’t easy,” Wright said when asked about pulling double duty. “I didn’t get the same amount of practice with both (position players and pitchers) like a regular player would, but I had been working hard at it and I prepared myself all offseason long to be able to do it. My coaches told me to prepare myself because they knew what I was going to be able to do this year.”

And everyone knew what the Bulldogs were going to be able to do this year – plenty of damage. They finished their season with an overall record to 40-20, as well as claimed their eighth straight Northeast Conference regular-season championship with a 19-5 mark.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, their bid to earn a spot in NCAA College World Series came to an end on Sunday, May 26, in their Northeast Conference winner-take-all championship game against Central Connecticut State University at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn. The Blue Devils squeaked out runs in the seventh and eighth innings and held on for a 3-2 win.

“It was a fun season,” Wright added. “We had a great group of guys this year, and obviously, (the season) didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but we had a good time throughout the whole thing.”