The Jays Journal staff returns with our yearly Top 30 prospect rankings. The #4 spot goes to a pitcher, Simeon Woods Richardson.
Name: Simeon Woods Richardson
Position: Pitcher Age: 19
Height: 6’3” Weight: 210 lbs
Acquired: Acquired from the New York Mets on July 28, 2019
2019 Organization Level: A ETA: 2022
Woods Richardson was selected by the New York Mets in the 2nd round of the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft from Kempner High School. Woods Richardson, together with Anthony Kay, was traded by the Mets in exchange for Marcus Stroman as the 2019 MLB trade deadline approached.
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Woods Richardson began his professional career in 2018 at the rookie-ball level. In total, he pitched 17.1 innings and posted an ERA of 1.58 and a FIP of 2.22. In 2019, his season started with the Columbia Fireflies, the Mets A-level affiliate. With Columbia, Woods Richardson produced a 24.6% K%-BB%, 4.25 ERA, and a 2.53 FIP in 78.1 innings. After the trade, Woods Richardson suited up for the Dunedin Blue Jays and recorded a 20.6% K%-BB%, 2.54 ERA, and 2.46 FIP in 35.1 innings. Table 1 contains additional data for the right-hander.
Recently, Baseball America ranked Woods Richardson as the #61 prospect in their Top 100 Prospects list, which was published in January 2020. He did not appear in their previous lists of Top 100 prospects. On February 5, 2020, Baseball America released their Top 40 right-handed pitching prospects and he checked in at #15. On the same list, the Blue Jays were represented by Nate Pearson (#1); Alex Manoah (#33), and Adam Kloffenstein (#40). FanGraphs released their 2020 Top 100 Prospects List on February 12, 2020 and ranked Woods Richardson at #76.
Baseball America, in its report issued after the 2019 season, made the following remarks:
"His fastball sits at 91-95 mph and he fills up the strike zone, projecting to have plus control. His fastball plays up because of its riding life, high spin rate and ability to generate extension out front, allowing him to get swings and misses up in the zone."
Baseball Prospectus published a report on Woods Richardson in November 2019 and noted the following regarding Richardson’s fastball:
"The fastball and curveball are potential plus pitches. The heater sits mid 90s in short bursts and can tick higher while settling low-to-mid 90s in longer outings. The pitch shows good life up and down the zone."
"After running his fastball up to 95 mph during the summer (2017), Woods Richardson sat more around 89-92 as a senior. But with his size, arm speed and athleticism, it was seemingly only a matter of time until velocity returned, and he spent his pro debut (2018) sitting around 93, while touching 97 with a riding fastball."
In terms of fastball grades, Baseball America assigned a 60, as did MLB Pipeline in its 2019 report. FanGraphs was a little less generous with their 2020 grade: 55.
Baseball America participated in the grade discussion of secondary pitches with this assessment of Woods Richardson.
"He throws a slider and a curveball, with his slider the go-to when he’s ahead in the count, grading out as an above-average pitch with a chance to tick up. He spent time working on his changeup in 2019 and it has a chance to be an average or better pitch."
Baseball Prospectus offered the following remarks on the subject of his other pitches.
"Woods Richardson pairs the fastball with a sharp, 12-to-6 breaking ball that spins tight and features strong bite, playing well off the high-slot fastball. The changeup is well behind, currently a show-me pitch with firmness and lack of feel. Arm speed is on his side with the changeup, and it could take big steps forward with further reps, but it’ll be difficult to project too much by way of gains given his current release point."
MLB Pipeline was not silent on this topic.
"Woods Richardson’s quick arm from a high-three-quarters slot helps him snap off a sharp, top-to-bottom curveball that shows plus potential, and he already demonstrates some feel for turning over an effective changeup."
In terms of grades, Baseball America and MLB Pipeline gave marks of 55 and 50 to Woods Richardson’s curveball and changeup, respectively. FanGraphs graded his curveball at 55; an identical mark was given to Woods Richardson’s changeup.
This is a good place to make the distinction between command and control. Eno Sarris wrote the following in a 2017 FanGraphs article:
"To start, we might as well revisit the difference between command and control, or at least the accepted version of that difference: control is the ability to throw the ball into the strike zone, while command is the ability to throw the ball to a particular location."
Baseball America offered the following assessment of Woods Richardson’s control:
"Woods Richardson posted a sparkling K/BB ratio in his first full season, especially for a pitcher who is the same age as many 2019 high school draft picks. Little about him resembled an 18-year-old, from his strong, athletic frame to his advanced pitchability and poise on the mound."
In their report, Baseball Prospectus did not specifically address command but did express an opinion on his delivery.
"Woods Richardson looks the part as a big power righty from the state of Texas and he has the stuff to match. He fires from a high slot with plus arm speed and goes right after hitters. The delivery has some effort, but he repeats it pretty well because of his premier athleticism."
MLB Pipeline commented on the subject of Woods Richardson’s delivery.
"Woods Richardson has a good delivery and repeats it well, but he’ll need to show he can maintain his stuff deep into his outings and handle the rigors of a full season to remain a starter long term. There’s certainly less concern about that after his impressive pro debut, and it’ll now be up to the Blue Jays to further the young right-hander’s development as he works to become a big league starter."
While none of these scouting resources specifically commented on Woods Richardson’s command, FanGraphs rated it as a 55, which is above average. In terms of control, Baseball America assigned a 70 grade to the talented prospect, which is plus plus. MLB Pipeline spoiled the control celebration with their 50 grade.
With his #61 ranking, Baseball America ended their report with this opinion.
"Between his stuff, control and strong, durable frame, Woods Richardson has a chance to develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter. He should be in Double-A at some point in 2020 as a 19-year-old, putting him in position to make his major league debut by age 20 or 21."
Baseball Prospectus addressed the subject of Woods Richardson’s future value with the following:
"The safe call is late-inning reliever with two knockout pitches, but those who especially like Woods Richardson see a mid-rotation starter with a third pitch of some kind. Either way, it’s obvious that he has the frame and stuff for impactful major-league innings."
Given their overall grade of 50, FanGraphs did not jump on the Woods Richardson bandwagon. Baseball Prospectus has a more secure perch on that transportation vehicle with a mark of 55. Top spot on the crusade belongs to Baseball America with a 60.
The last word
We must remember that Woods Richardson is just 19 years of age; there are many positive and negative things that can occur during his development. However, Woods Richardson is a very attractive prospect who, according to Baseball America, currently profiles as a #3 starter but there is a #2-starter ceiling. The Blue Jays and their fans should be excited about the pitcher who for some reason does not have a hyphen in his name.