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  • Twins Daily 2022 Top Prospects: #8 Simeon Woods Richardson


    Lucas Seehafer

    The Minnesota Twins acquired pitching prospect Simeon Woods Richardson along with fellow Twins Daily top 10 prospect Austin Martin in exchange for José Berríos at the 2021 trade deadline. Doing so provided fans with the sugar needed to swallow the bitter medicine that was parting with a fan-favorite and consummate professional.

    But while Simeon Woods Richardson was billed as one of the building blocks for the future of Twins baseball, the luster of his prospect-dom dulled a little after struggling during his four appearances with the Double-A Wichita Wind Surge. 

    Despite this, the 21-year-old still ranks among the team’s most promising pitching prospects and comes in at No. 8 in Twins Daily’s preseason rankings. 

    Age: 21 (DOB: 9/27/00)
    2021 Stats (Double-A): 53 1/3 IP, 5.91 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 77 K, 34 BB
    ETA: 2023
    2021 Ranking: NR

    National Top 100 Rankings
    BA: NR | MLB: NR | ATH: NR | BP: NR

    What's to Like

    In many respects, Woods Richardson’s scouting report is fairly straightforward. He owns a traditional three-pitch mix, consisting of a fastball, curve, and changeup, with all three offerings having plus potential. His fastball sits in the low-90s but can reach 94-95 mph every now and then; the curveball, his most inconsistent pitch in terms of quality, can make hitters look foolish when on; and his changeup features significant tailing action and is probably his best pitch overall at the moment.

    Woods Richardson has never struggled to rack up strikeout numbers — he has 229 in 177 1/3 minor league innings — and it’s difficult to see that changing as he makes his way to the Majors. His raw stuff is among the best in the system and alone warrants his top 10 prospect ranking. Add in his age and athletic build, and there are few pitchers in the Twins’ farm system that possess a grander upside.  

    What's Left to Work On

    However, his weaknesses are just as glaring as his strengths. 

    Woods Richardson has never had great command despite owning respectable walk rates prior to the 2021 season. However, his BB/9 jumped from around two per nine innings during his first two minor league seasons to 5.16 while a member of the Blue Jays and a putrid 9.00 after being shipped to the Twins. (He posted a 77:34 KK/BB ratio in 53 ⅓ innings overall last season, though it should be mentioned 16 of his walks came across three particularly bad starts.)

    His struggles just prior and following his acquisition were likely the result of multiple factors. For starters, Woods Richardson missed approximately six weeks of action during the middle of the season as he was competing as a member of Team USA during the 2020 Olympics (he did not make a single appearance during the Games). Additionally, Woods Richardson, as was the case with most minor leaguers, did not pitch during games in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which likely impacted his endurance in a negative fashion.

    But perhaps the most important factor of them all is his mechanics. Woods Richardson’s windup and arm motion mirror that of fellow Twins prospect Jordan Balazovic — who, perhaps coincidentally, also struggles with command at times — in that they extend their arm fully and drop the ball well below their respective belt lines during the stride phase of their delivery. They get a good push off from the legs and produce a great amount of force by tucking their glove hand powerfully under the armpit, rotating the torso powerfully.

    In and of itself, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with the foundation of Woods Richardson’s mechanics, however, it isn’t very compact being composed of many moving parts and long levers. The larger the pitching motion, the more unlikely it is to repeat consistently and the more likely it is for minor blemishes to cause large effects. Tightening up his motion ever so slightly may result in improved command and, thus, decreased walks for the Twins prospect.

    What's Next

    The Twins pitching staff will doubtless work with Woods Richardson to improve his command and overall performance, picking and prodding until the results manifest. After all, he is still years away from arriving in Minneapolis despite reaching Double-A before being allowed to drink legally. In all likelihood he will spend the majority of the 2022 in Wichita with the Wind Surge.

    Woods Richardson has all of the talent to land as a Number 2 or 3 starter at the MLB level, it all just depends on his command. 

    Previous Rankings
    Honorable Mentions
    Prospects 16-20
    Prospects 11-15
    #10: Josh Winder, RHP
    #9: Chase Petty, RHP
    #8: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP
    #7: Coming Soon 

     

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    This is another good writeup!  Thanks for mentioning how far he fell during the season. He was two different pitchers last year.  He started off in May with 19 innings pitched a 2.35 ERA with a WHIP of 1.16 and 31K's in those 19 innings.  Really dominant for a 20 year old at AA. 

    Then it all fell apart. Not sure exactly what the issues were but have to say it does give one pause.  Was he injured or the arm tired after the first 6 weeks of the season?  It seems like he had time to recover over the Olympics and yet he was even worse once he returned.  

    So at this point which guy is he.  The dominant K machine that started last year or the guy giving up hits, walks and runs like crazy?  I don't know.  All I do know is he is young with plenty of time to improve and he has shown flashes of dominance so no reason he can't get back there.   He was a pretty big part of the Berrios deal so we need him to work out.  Hoping for a big year that puts my fears to rest.

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    I am seeing this list under a very different lens than the TD listers.  When I read the 'What's left to work on" section I think this is not a top ten guy.  He has too much to prove yet.  Another pitcher that I would put Winder ahead of.  I hope he fulfills the expectations.  

    I am slowly beginning to understand that these lists are so different from the last few years because of all the players who are no longer eligible because they have been called up.  So in the past I was looking for the next one to take Target field and in this list I am seeing more wait and see and hope with the exception of a few arms I still hope to see this year. 

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    He probably has some of the best stuff of the Twins minor league pitchers. Command is an issue and might never be good enough to make it.  This has bullpen written all over it.  Not what I wanted here, but he has a few years to work things out.  Like a previous poster, given the issues, he looks to be rated too high for me.

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    Great summary--I think you identified his strengths and weaknesses beautifully.  While this kid has the stuff to be a solid starter, last year raises concerns.  I too think he should be a little lower on the list.  It will be interesting to see where he sits at midseason.  Hopefully, I will have to eat crow :).  

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    I think he was terribly mismanaged last year. First by the Blue Jays and then by whoever let him go to the Olympics and not throw a single pitch. After not throwing a competitive pitch in 2020 he should've started at high-A for the Blue Jays and taking 6 weeks off in the middle of the season to throw 0 competitive pitches and not even be around his developmental coaches was terrible. I look at him as basically a brand new prospect after these last 2 years. I don't know that I'd rank him significantly higher or lower than this on my list, but I'd view him as basically a new draftee/signee. His track record is completely wiped out for me after the last 2 years. Fresh start and let's see what he looks like this year.

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    SWR being in the Stroman and Berrios trades is kind of funny. As a young dude in AA, I'm just glad the Ks are there. The walk rate isn't good but the fact that he got something right as a young AA guy is nice. I'm hyped for him.

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    I like SWR's attitude and has 3 working pitches. He's definitely not BP material. Once settled in and time for the coaching staff to work with him, he'll be fine. Like baseball's Yogi Berra said "baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical". IMO SWR has that mental toughness. 

    IMO SWR is rated this high because of his potential, attitude and mental toughness.

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    2 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

    I think he was terribly mismanaged last year. First by the Blue Jays and then by whoever let him go to the Olympics and not throw a single pitch. After not throwing a competitive pitch in 2020 he should've started at high-A for the Blue Jays and taking 6 weeks off in the middle of the season to throw 0 competitive pitches and not even be around his developmental coaches was terrible. I look at him as basically a brand new prospect after these last 2 years. I don't know that I'd rank him significantly higher or lower than this on my list, but I'd view him as basically a new draftee/signee. His track record is completely wiped out for me after the last 2 years. Fresh start and let's see what he looks like this year.

    This. He might have been ok starting in AA, but having that get interrupted by the Olympics and then not actually pitching in Japan on top of not having a season of games in 2020 really screwed him. He needed last year as a development year and it got completely borked up with the Olympics. Considering he only had 6 starts in A+ at age 18, I don't think there was any need to rush him to AA, especially with the skip year in 2020. 

    His time with the Twins so far was pretty meaningless: it's only 8 innings coming off a essentially a 6 week layoff. I'm guessing they were just trying to see what he looked like and try to figure out what he needed to work on. Hopefully, he's back in AA and gets to be on a real program this year and show what he can do. the talent is there.

    I really don't want him factoring in to any trade right now; pretty sure we'd be selling low on a guy with a lot of talent.

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    Woods-Richardson was an MLB's #93, Fangraphs' #76, Bleacher Reports #78 prospect in 2020/entering 2021 and was the cornerstone of the Marcus Stroman trade. While he's unranked this year among top 100 lists, he hasn't really changed.

    There's little surprise Woods-Richardson's struggled with control after losing 2020 and half of the 2021 season due to just sitting on a bench for his name to be called in the Olympics. People can point fingers all they want in regard to fault for that situation, but as a young prospect developing mechanics, the loss of playing time is about the worst possible thing which can happen. It also would explain why the Twins put him on the Development List rather than assigning him directly to AA after he arrived back from Tokyo last year. 

    Woods-Richardson's MLB scouting report lists his pitches as Four seam fastball, curveball, slider, changeup. I haven't seen much in regard to scouting on his slider, but what's out there indicates it's an MLB caliber offering, just not his best. Woods-Richardson's curveball and changeup both have plus potential.

    Basically, Woods-Richardson has the stuff to get the job done and has shown impressive performances into the high minors despite aggressive promotions. There's some projection potential left in his fastball and the Twins have been very successful so far in getting a little extra velocity from mechanical adjustments on other prospects. There's a reason Woods-Richardson was so highly coveted by the Blue Jays and by the Twins. The negativity directed at his stock is unwarranted at this point.

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    2 hours ago, bean5302 said:

    Woods-Richardson was an MLB's #93, Fangraphs' #76, Bleacher Reports #78 prospect in 2020/entering 2021 and was the cornerstone of the Marcus Stroman trade. While he's unranked this year among top 100 lists, he hasn't really changed.

    There's little surprise Woods-Richardson's struggled with control after losing 2020 and half of the 2021 season due to just sitting on a bench for his name to be called in the Olympics. People can point fingers all they want in regard to fault for that situation, but as a young prospect developing mechanics, the loss of playing time is about the worst possible thing which can happen. It also would explain why the Twins put him on the Development List rather than assigning him directly to AA after he arrived back from Tokyo last year. 

    Woods-Richardson's MLB scouting report lists his pitches as Four seam fastball, curveball, slider, changeup. I haven't seen much in regard to scouting on his slider, but what's out there indicates it's an MLB caliber offering, just not his best. Woods-Richardson's curveball and changeup both have plus potential.

    Basically, Woods-Richardson has the stuff to get the job done and has shown impressive performances into the high minors despite aggressive promotions. There's some projection potential left in his fastball and the Twins have been very successful so far in getting a little extra velocity from mechanical adjustments on other prospects. There's a reason Woods-Richardson was so highly coveted by the Blue Jays and by the Twins. The negativity directed at his stock is unwarranted at this point.

    He's young. He may well be the first Twin to make the majors born in this century/millennium. The guy has the pitches and the makeup to be a star, as well as the body type to be durable. So much could go wrong, of course, but having the tools and makeup to be great moves him up the prospect list.

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    I wouldn't worry too much about what happened with SWR last year, as it was by no means a 'standard' season for the reasons outlined.

    The dude is on the 'very young' for the level he's playing at spectrum, especially when it comes to pitchers for the Twins. He's at the same point now Jose Berrios was at the same age —this is a good thing!

    I saw a definite top-prospect-type-pitcher watching one of his outings after he finally got on the mound with Wichita, and hope to see a lot more of such outings in 2022: 

     

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