On the Horizon: Dustin Richardson

One young pitcher who is moving up the charts is 24-year old lefty Dustin Richardson [Sox Prospects profile]. Just two years after being drafted out of Texas Tech in the 5th round, Richardson is already flashing some tantalizing potential at Double-A Portland this season. In his first start of 2008, he struck out the first five batters he faced and didn’t allow a hit for four innings in a ten strikeout performance. He finished with five innings, allowing just one run on one hit and three walks. Richardson actually fanned five of the first six hitters he ever faced in his professional debut back in 2006. Pretty heady stuff.

Originally from Kansas, Richardson is a lanky 6′ 6″ lefty who can throw two fastballs in the low 90s and also mixes a changeup and a curveball. His height allows him to throw on more of a downward plane, allowing him to get a good number of groundballs (about 45-50% at each level) and keep the ball in the park (just 7 HRs given up in over 160 IP). He is very athletic, having played basketball and nearly made the Texas Tech team under Bobby Knight. Scouts project him as a reliever in the Majors, but there is a chance he could become a back-end starter. Says Richardson:

I throw a curve and a change-up, but I’m more of a fastball guy than anything. I like to go out there and compete, and I’m looking to be aggressive. I don’t pick corners. My approach is to throw strikes and let my movement dictate where the ball goes. I’m sort of the ‘tall lefty’, attacking hitters. I try to put fear in the batter.

In just over one and a half minor league seasons, Richardson has climbed from low-A to Double-A and is 9-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 162 2/3 IP. He has walked just 65 in those innings, while fanning 167 batters. In just four starts at hitter-friendly Lancaster last year, he went 4-0 with a 2.74 ERA and 25 Ks in 23 IP with just 5 walks.

Look for Richardson to get a look in September 2009, if not earlier. He could be a very good left-handed swingman/bridge guy.


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