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Top Prospect Alert Interview -
Dusty Wrightsman

By Paul Gierhart

The right man is Dusty Wrightsman
 
    Can you imagine as a T-ball player being restricted to a five-foot circle because you are catching too many balls and not giving other players a chance to field the ball?  Well the source of our current interview was that T-ball player.
    Terre Haute, Indiana native, Dusty Wrightsman is removed from the restrictions of his T-ball career and now is a starting pitcher for the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals Class A Advanced) in the Carolina League. And what a year he's having.7-3 with a 2.52 ERA over 75.0 innings pitched; only 13 bases on balls and 63 strikeouts.
    His earliest memories of professional baseball are fond recollections of attending an Indianapolis Indians minor league game in '97 and first pro game in '99 between the Yankees and the White Sox's.
    In high school Wrightsman play ball for Terre Haute North (5A conference school).  Wrightsman adds, "In high school I played first and third base when I wasn't pitching."  All four years Wrightsman won his high school's MVP and as a senior he batted .597 and won both the hitting and pitching title in the Metro-Conference.  Wrightsman was nominated for Mr. Baseball of Indiana and is listed in the Indiana Hall of Fall for being on the Indiana State All-Star Team.
    During the summer Wrightsman surrounded himself with fellow NABF Indiana Bulls teammates Scott Rolen, A.J. Zapp and J.D. Closser. Collectively this squad won the high school world series and Wrightsman contributed with a 1.13 ERA.
    College ball took Wrightsman to Faulkner State Community College in Minnette, AL (twelve hour drive from Terre Haute).  Wrightsman admits, "My biggest adjustment to college ball was the increase number of good hitters and the fact I had to put a little more thought into pitching."  At Faulkner State Wrightsman earned 2nd team All-American, NJCAA All Region XXII Division One Baseball Team honors, and American Baseball Coaches Association & Rawling Sports Goods All-Region Team honors.  Wrightsman set a school record at Faulkner State by throwing a 76 pitch, complete 9 inning (no walks) shutout game against conference leader Shelton State.  Local media proclaimed Wrightsman's efforts as "The best game ever pitched at Stanley James Field."  Wrightsman explained, "I was told my fast ball topped out in the low 80s as a freshman and this prevented me from being drafted.  I worked hard on lower body strength and in my first game (February 9, 2000) in Pensacola, Florida I was seen by a Royals scout and told I'd be drafted."
    Wrightsman was drafted by the Royals in the 2000 June Draft in the 26th round and was assigned to the Gulf Coast Royals (Baseball City, FL). When asked what was the biggest adjustment that had to be made to pro ball, Wrightsman answered, "The main adjustment is to get into a good work ethic, make the adjustments that coaches ask of you, be self-motivated and become more adult in your attitude."  Wrightsman started with 12 scoreless innings and spent several months healing from a hand infection that cause some control problems.
    Prior to spring training 2001, Wrightsman did the winter workouts that the Royals gave him and worked at a local K-Mart.  "I started spring training with the Burlington squad (MWL) and questioned if I would stay with them.I found out in the last couple days of spring training I would stay with Burlington", added Wrightsman.  With the Burlington Bees Wrightsman had a 4.29 ERA in 79.2 innings pitched, 22 BB and 54 SO. Surprisely, Wrightsman and I enjoyed something we had in common from his Burlington days.  During a rainout in Clinton, Iowa we both remember his Burlington teammates chanting a rain dance song with the help of broken bats, trashcans and a bat dressed up as a player.  Both of my younger sons talk about that game still.
    When asked what makes this year so different from his two previous pro seasons in the Gulf Coast League and the Midwest League, Wrightsman responds, "I really worked hard over the off-season, lost some weight, worked on body strength (both legs and arms) and achieved command of the fast ball on both sides of the plate.  I had a good spring training and felt confident I could compete for a starting role with Wilmington."
    Outside the game and being from Indiana, Wrightsman enjoys auto and dirt track racing and enjoys basketball and hunting.  Back home in Terre Haute, IN Wrightsman's family are real supportive of his ball career.Mom (Cheryl), Dad (Glenn) and older brother (Glenn II) help keep him focused on making it to the big leagues.
 
Scouting report on Wrightsman...
Wilmington Blue Rock pitching coach, Bill Slack, has been in baseball for 49 years and was the pitching coach in the Atlanta Braves organization from 1985-98, spending most of that time with Greenville AA. To say it without reservation, Coach Slack knows baseball. Ask to give an evaluation of Blue Rock pitcher, Dusty Wrightsman, Coach Slack did not stumble once.  "Dusty is a pitcher with great control, he has an easy release that is very deceptive and quickly gets up on the batter; Dusty's fastball at 92 ends up looking like 95. Dusty has a very good slider, and as mentioned an outstanding fastball that he keeps down." Coach Slack said he noticed Dusty's ability to keep the ball down during spring training; "Dusty is the best on our pitching staff in keeping the ball down. Dusty is working on his change-up, and it is getting better. Dusty will pitch in the majors," Coach Slack states without hesitation.  Being a starter or mid-relief depends on how well he develops the change-up. Coach goes on to say, "Coach Garber states that Dusty is a very versatile pitcher; we have ask him to come in without much notice and Dusty has done the job; I can't say enough good about him".  Dusty is now a starter. Coach Slack said that Garber and himself had been working on this for several months.


 

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