Austin Wright was selected by the Phillies in the 8th round on the 2011 amateur draft. Since then, the 21-year-old left-hander has looked great, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.70 ERA in 12 games at two levels. Additionally, the 6-foot-4-inch 235-pounder has struck out an impressive 67 batters in 56 2/3 innings pitched.
The Illinois native spent two years pitching for Chipola Junior College before transferring to Ole Miss, where he faced tough competition in 2011.
Wright was promoted from short-season Williamsport to Class A Lakewood on August 1st, following Ryan Duke and becoming the second 2011 draft pick to join the BlueClaws.
Recently I spoke with Austin about his draft experience, growing up as a fan and plenty more. Read the excerpts from that interview below. Also, click here to read my previous feature on Wright and Duke's additions to the Lakewood staff.
Have you been surprised with the level of success you've had this early in your pro career?
No, I work hard and I go out there and try to prepare myself for every start. And just go from there.
I wanted to ask about your draft experience this year. How did you find out? Were you tracking it online?
I was. I was with my family, just sitting at the house, just watching the draft and waiting for a club to take me.
Were the Phillies the club you expected to call your name, or were there other teams that had been in touch with you also?
Yeah, there were a couple teams that I had in mind before the Phillies, definitely. But, you know, it's always great to be drafted by a great club like the Phillies.
Can you give me an idea of which other clubs had been scouting you and who you might have expected to get a call from?
The White Sox were the biggest one. I did a work out for the White Sox previous to the draft and I definitely thought the White Sox were going to take me.
In 2010 you were drafted by Boston. Was that a difficult decision to not sign and continue with your collegiate career?
It was. But, my parents wanted me to play in the SEC and, as a player, I wanted to kind of grow and mature on and off the field. And this year was the year I felt was the right time to come out.
Now, we've talked about your collegiate career and you started out playing JuCo ball, then transferred to Ole Miss. What were some of your highlights or most memorable moments from you college career?
Well, I would say all of them, in the SEC. That was a blast this year, playing all those great caliber teams and stuff like that. My freshman year, I threw a no-hitter. And then following that, I almost threw another no-hitter, but lost it in the 7th. But, that was a pretty memorable moment for me.
You're an Illinois guy. Who were some of the players that you looked up to, growing up as a baseball fan?
Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Sammy Sosa...I was a big Cubs fan.
Did you grow up attending games at Wrigley Field?
I did. Actually, my dad gets tickets and we'd have seats four rows behind the Cubs dugout, so I used to get a lot of autographs and see a lot of good games.
So, speaking of your previous life as an autograph collector, is that something that could inspire you to sign more autographs, now that you're a pro?
Definitely. I try to give back to these fans because without them the game's not as fun. And I know, when I was little, how important it is to get these big autographs and balls and stuff like that, so I just try to help these little kids out.
Some guys here in the Phils organization, with the Crosscutters and with the BlueClaws, are into social networking. I haven't seen you on there quite yet--
I have a Twitter account!
Oh, you do? What's the handle? Let's get some people on that!
Alright, great! I know Perci Garner's big on there. And I saw that, he seems to be a big video game guy and I just made note of it...he might have been talking trash about you a bit. What's the deal there? Who is the superior gamer?
Definitely Perci. Yeah, we play NBA 2k11 a lot, up in Williamsport. We used to get after it in the locker room a lot. Perci's pretty good and he beat me a couple times, but I'm gonna get him...
Image- Ole Miss Sports
You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.
You can also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE.