BY STEVE KRAH
Amir Wright has been a summer fixture in the Midwest Collegiate League.
Right after graduating from Griffith (Ind.) High School and before heading to Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., in 2016, the outfielder joined the John Ely-managed Southland Vikings.
Wright was with the Adam Enright-managed Northwest Indiana Oilmen all summer in 2017.
After a short stint with Brent McNeil’s Lafayette (Ind.) Aviators of the Prospect League, he closed out the summer of 2018 in Whiting, Ind., as the Oilmen skipper Enright’s designated hitter.
The lefty swinger went away from his home territory in 2019 and played in the Valley Baseball League for the Tony Hurla-managed Front Royal (Va.) Cardinals.
Wright finds himself back in the MCL in 2020. This time he’s with the Matt Vitulli-managed Joliet (Ill.) Generals.
At 22, Wright has years on most other players in the MCL.
“They make a lot of jokes about it — like this must be my 12th year in the league,” says Wright, who graduated with a Communication degree from Saint Leo (Fla.) University and plans to be a “Corona Senior” with the Rick O’Dette-coached Lions in 2020-21 while pursuing a Marketing masters degree.
Wright, who weighs 190 pounds and stands 5-foot-11 (with his cleats on), followed O’Dette to Saint Leo when the veteran head coach landed there after SJC closed its doors following the 2017 season.
“What you see is what you get,” says Wright of O’Dette. “He’s to-the-point. He’ll tell you how it is. He’s truthful and he’ll push you.
“That’s all you can ask for in a coach. That makes people better in the end.”
Wright’s personality is laid-back. But as he has aged, O’Dette has asked him to become more vocal in his leadership.
“I lead by example — on the field or off the field,” says Wright. “I’m setting the tone leading off the game.”
Wright has been used as a lead-off hitter since his junior year at Griffith playing for head coach Brian Jennings.
Before that year, he grew four or five inches and lowered his 60-yard dash time from 7.4 seconds to 6.6.
“I had the speed to bunt,” says Wright. “Even before I had speed, I didn’t swing and miss a lot and I got on base a lot.”
Last fall at Saint Leo’s Pro Day, Wright was clocked in 6.5 for the 60.
Wright played in 55 games (53 starts) as a Saint Joseph’s freshmen, hitting .306 with 63 hits, one home run, three triples, seven doubles, 30 runs batted in, 44 runs and six stolen bases.
Wright has started in all 109 games at Saint Leo, hitting .340 (146-of-430) with six homers, one triple, 27 doubles, 68 RBIs, 111 runs and 25 stolen bases.
The COVID-19-shortened 2020 season saw him hit .410 (25-of-61) with one homer, one triple, seven doubles, eight RBIs, 23 runs and three steals in 16 games.
“It was a big transition,” says Wright of his move from Indiana to Florida. “I ended up loving it. People are super nice. The school is amazing. Facilities are second to none.”
In-person classes at Saint Leo are scheduled to begin Aug. 25. Wright says he plans to go a few weeks before that to settle into his apartment.
At Griffith, Wright was an honorable mention all-state selection as well as a first-team all-area and second-team all-Northwest Crossroads Conference pick. He helped the Panthers win four sectional titles.
“(Coach Jennings) definitely wanted us to represent Griffith to the fullest of our ability,” says Wright. “A lot of talented players played with me.”
Born in Harvey, Ill., Amir moved to Griffith at 2. He began playing T-ball at 4 and was at what is now called Griffith Youth Baseball until 12. Meanwhile, he also played for the traveling Griffith Growlers from 10 to 13.
Many high school teammates played together since the were young. That includes Kody Hoese, who is the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2020 60-player roster player.
“He left for LA last week,” says Wright of Hoese. “I was with him a couple days before that. Our families are really close.”
Wright spent his 14U and 15U summers (2012 and 2013) with the Dave Griffin-coached Indiana Playmakers and 16U and 17U summers (2014 and 2015) with the Indiana Seminoles. That team was coached by George Jaksich (father of Wright’s SJC teammate, Luke Jaksich).
When the Southland Vikings needed an outfielder in 2016, Wright filled the bill.
“I got lucky,” says Wright. “I was added about a month before the season started.
“It helped me get ready for college baseball.”
Amir (22) is the oldest Willie and Luchie Wright’s three sons ahead of Anson (19) and Aydin (16). Their father is a used car salesman. Their mother is an occupational therapist.
Anson aka “A.J.” played baseball at Griffith High and just finished his freshmen year at Northwood University (Mich.). Aydin was at Griffith as a freshman then transferred to Thornwood High School in South Holland, Ill., for his sophomore year in 2019-20. This summer, he plays for the Chicago White Sox ACE travel organization.