Mets RHP prospect Simeon Woods Richardson has been turning heads so far this season with Single-A Columbia, with a ridiculously good 27-to-1 strikeout-to-walk rate. Here's a deep dive on the pitcher who could have the highest-upside arm in the organization...
Position: Right-handed pitcher
Weight: 210 lbs
MLB Pipeline Mets Prospect Ranking: 7
2019 Statistics: 3.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 0-3 record in 18 innings pitched over six starts while allowing 17 hits, 1 walk and striking out 27
Simeon Woods Richardson grew up in Sugar Land, Texas, which is right outside of Houston. He has an incredibly supportive family consisting of his mother, father, step-father and two step-sisters. If he isn't playing baseball and is home in Sugar Land, you can probably catch him watching Moana and eating his mother's chicken salad.
He grew up with athletic people in his life as his father was a college baseball player who also got some time in the minor leagues. His step-father was a great football player and an All-American. Woods Richardson has a close relationship with both of his fathers and he grew up in a family that would not miss a game. In fact, his family will drive to as many of his minor-league games as they are able to make.
In high school, he was mentored by his high school baseball coach, Eric Folkerts. He was a two-way player who played third base and shortstop, as well as pitcher. In the pre-draft process, he spoke to a lot of teams throughout baseball who were considering drafting him as a position player, not a pitcher. Being the athlete and competitor that he is, he always told teams that he will play whatever he was drafted as.
After high school, the Mets drafted Woods Richardson in the second round, 48th overall in the 2018 MLB Draft. He was expecting to go between the third and fifth rounds, and was surprised when he got the call from the Mets while at a Buffalo Wild Wings. He had committed to the University of Texas to play both third base and pitch if he was not drafted to the right situation for him. The Mets were willing to give him an above-slot signing bonus to forego college and pursue a professional career.
With the Mets
Woods Richardson split his first seven professional appearances between the Gulf Coast League Mets and the Kingsport Mets, both of which are Rookie level. He went a combined 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, allowing 15 hits and four walks in 17.1 innings while striking out 26. His athleticism creates a loose and fluid delivery, which allows him to more easily repeat his delivery and have quality control of his pitches.
The Mets were aggressive in placing Woods Richardson with Single-A Columbia to start the 2019 season instead of keeping him back in extended spring training and pitching for Brooklyn later in the summer. He has proven that decision to be a wise one in the early going, as he came into Wednesday's outing with a 1.23 ERA. He had his first rough start, allowing five runs in 3.1 innings, which jumped his ERA to 3.50. However, he's shown to be more than ready for this level of competition despite only being 18 years old.
Repertoire and Future
Woods Richardson's pitching repertoire consists of a fastball that will sit in the 91-94 mph range, touching 96 or 97. At one time last season he was clocked at 99 mph. His go-to secondary pitch is his 82-86 mph slider that he uses as a strikeout pitch. He also throws a power curveball in the same velocity range as his slider, but with a more 12-to-6 type of break. He is developing a circle change, throwing it as much as 10 times per outing.
The Mets have had a lot of success with the type of pitcher who was a two-way player and a natural athlete, notably Jacob deGrom. Woods Richardson is a little raw as a natural pitcher, since he spent his entire life doing both pitching and hitting. But he's made such a quick progression that the Mets even allowed him to appear in a major-league spring training game this year.
Woods Richardson is a real competitor who pitches with an aggressive, bulldog mentality on the mound. I think he likely has the most upside of any pitcher in the Mets system. With him now focusing solely on pitching, he has the potential to be a prospect that is being mentioned next year among the top three or four best in the Mets' system, and among the Top 100 in all of baseball.