Before he was a star and captain for the New York Mets, David Wright learned to be great in Arizona.
Once upon a time, David Wright was a first-round pick underwhelming in the minor leagues. It wasn’t until he trekked down to the Arizona Fall League as a member of the Peoria Saguaros that he officially learned to be great.
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It’s crazy to think about now since Wright would become a seven-time MLB All-Star, but it’s true. Drafted at No. 38 in the 2001 MLB Draft, the Virginia native hit below .270 with an unbelievable amount of strikeouts in two Single-A seasons. Combined, Wright struck out more than once per five at-bats, racking up 212 punchouts in 962 at-bats.
Seemingly lost, he went to play in the Arizona Fall League in 2003 and everything fell into place. He hit well for Peoria during his time in Arizona (.341 BA), leaving Wright with a confidence he hadn’t felt up to that point.
Speaking with Jim Callis of MLB.com after getting inducted into the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame in 2017, Wright detailed how the league did “wonders for his career.”
“Between the ears I think is the biggest challenge in this game,”. “It’s just believing in yourself and believing you can go out there and compete against the best players in the world. That’s what I felt like I accomplished, coming to the Fall League and playing as well as I did.”
Incredibly, the newfound confidence launched his career immediately. He cut his strikeouts down right away as he went from Double-A to Triple-A, impressing enough people along the way to earn him a call-up at the end of the 2004 MLB season.
The rest is history.
Wright hit .293 for the New York Mets in his first MLB action and never returned to the minor leagues (outside of rehab assignments).
In total, Wright piled up 1,777 hits and 242 home runs in 1,585 games with the New York Mets before injuries cut his career short. A lifetime .296 hitter, Wright also won two Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger awards, and helped New York reach the 2015 World Series.
On Friday, Wright wrapped up his MLB career in an emotional ceremony at Citi Field. Just the third captain in Mets’ history, he fought back from an excruciating back injury to start one more game for the Mets. His last start before Friday was in May of 2016.
Besides his Arizona Fall League HOF induction, his No. 7 jersey was also retired by the Saguaros franchise (now based in Surprise).