CINCINNATI -- When he began his pro career with Billings last summer, Reds prospect Ryan Wright experienced the most non-glamorous part of an unglamorous life in the Minor Leagues on the first day. "The first [trip], I met the team while they were in Ogden, Utah," Wright recalled. "The trip from Ogden to Billings [Mont.] is 12 to 13 hours. So I got thrown right into the fire. At Louisville, the furthest we went on the bus was maybe six hours. For trips to the Northeast, we'd fly to just about everywhere we played." Wright, a second baseman, was the Reds' fifth-round Draft pick last June out of the University of Louisville. He grew up in Fort Wayne, Ind., but was born in Columbus, Ohio, and had immediate allegiance to the organization he wound up playing for.
"I come from a family of Reds fans, which is pretty cool," Wright said. "I've been going to games since I was 4 or 5 years old. It's pretty cool that I ended up playing with the Reds." In only one season, Wright has stood out after he batted .298 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs in 40 games for rookie-level Billings. Ranked No. 15 on MLB.com's Top 20 Reds Prospect List, he was described as an "offensive-minded second baseman who hits for average with just enough speed and power to make things interesting." At Class A Dayton of the Midwest League this season, the 22-year-old Wright entered Monday batting .294 with a .368 on-base percentage and five RBIs. He was hitting .341 over the last 10 games. "He is providing quality at-bats and learning what it takes to be an everyday player in professional baseball, like most players at the Low A level," said Jeff Graupe, the Reds' player development administrator. Defensively, Wright has already committed four errors in 17 games. In 40 games for Billings last season, the superlative defensive player made only one error. "And that was a ball that happened to hit the lip of the grass and take a bad hop," Billings manager Pat Kelly said. "He played really solid defense for us and was still learning the position." Since joining the Reds' system, Wright has worked to smooth out his skills at second base after playing multiple positions in college. He often spent extra time on his footwork, mechanics and turning double plays from the right side of the infield. "Consistency has always been a big part of my game," Wright said. "As long as I am improving and keeping errors to a minimum, I will be happy." The Reds have been pleased with Wright's development in general, especially in areas that require more instinct than coaching -- work ethic and mental preparation. Wright didn't drag his tired body off of the bus after the long rides filled with open highways and fast-food stops. "I think the day in and day out grind is the toughest thing to adjust to," Kelly said. "I think he did great. He really wanted to get better. That's always a key when you're working with a guy." There wasn't much of an offseason for Wright. In a sign that he is highly thought of by the organization, he was one of only 18 prospects selected to attend a special Minor League conditioning camp at the team complex in Arizona about six weeks ahead of Spring Training. For five days a week and several hours each day, Wright and the campers did extra lifting, running and agility training -- all with the purpose of being conditioned ahead of the grind of the regular season. "Hopefully it will help us stay injury-free for when we hit those dog days of July and August, when people's bodies tend to break down," Wright said. "The goal of this is to make sure that we stay strong through a whole year."