In the 2018 draft the Cincinnati Reds used their second round pick on high school pitcher Lyon Richardson. To say that his introduction to professional baseball didn’t go as planned would probably be underselling it. As an 18-year-old he posted a 7.14 ERA in Greeneville over 11 starts. He worked on a limited number of pitches in each start and threw just 29.0 total innings – but it was a tough go of things at the time.

The Cincinnati Reds saw enough of what they liked in 2019 during spring training, though, and assigned the now 19-year-old to their affiliate in Low-A. Joining the Dayton Dragons rotation in April, the first two starts for Lyon Richardson got out to a solid beginning as he allowed one earned run in 7.2 innings with 10 strikeouts. But the next two starts – the final two of April – were the opposite of that. Richardson allowed 18 hits and nine earned runs in 7.2 innings. That would bump his ERA for the month up to 5.87 in 15.1 innings. He did allow just one home run while walking five batters and striking out 16.

May began where April left off – with a struggle. On the 1st of the month (if you didn’t just start singing this who even are you?) Lyon Richardson allowed six runs in 5.0 innings. But the right-handed starter put together a strong run over the next three weeks. In those four starts he allowed just four runs in 19.0 innings (1.89 ERA) without allowing a home run. The month did end on a bit of a down note for Richardson, who gave up five runs in 4.0 innings in Bowling Green. Over his six starts on the month he threw 28.0 innings with a 4.82 ERA to go with eight walks and 24 strikeouts.

June began with two solid 5.0 inning starts that saw Lyon Richardson allowed just one earned run in each, but he had more walks than strikeouts in that span. The next two starts, though, were better. He struck out 14 batters with just three walks in 10.2 innings and allowed just two earned runs in that stretch. For as good as June was going, the final start was the opposite of that. Richardson allowed 10 hits and six runs over 2.0 innings to end the month. That final start bumped his ERA for the month up to 3.97 in 22.2 innings pitched.

The first two starts of July were strong for Lyon Richardson, striking out 14 batters and allowing three runs in 11.0 combined innings. But after that the Reds cut back on his pitch limit and he started seeing fewer innings. In the final four starts of the month he threw just 10.1 innings, throwing 43-66 pitches in each of the starts. For the month he posted a 4.22 ERA in 21.1 innings with 25 strikeouts and seven innings.

August saw the pitch count jump back up to a more normal range for Lyon Richardson. And he responded well, too. In his first three starts of the month he allowed six runs in 14.0 innings (3.86 ERA) with 14 strikeouts and three walks. But he would close out the year with two more starts, combining for just one earned run over 11.2 innings on the road against Lansing and Lake County. It would go down as his best month of the year, posing a 2.45 ERA in 25.2 innings with 22 strikeouts.

For all 2019 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Lyon Richardson Scouting Report

Position: Right-handed pitcher | B/T: R/R

Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 192 lbs | Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018

Born: January 18, 2000

Fastball | The velocity has never gotten back to the levels where it was reportedly at in high school when he was up to 98 MPH at peak levels. This year he topped out at 95, and sat 90-93 with his fastball.

Change Up | A fringe-average offering. At times it can be a little too close to his fastball in velocity, but he shows good arm-speed with the pitch and it with consistency could become an average offering in the future.

Curveball | At times the pitch will flash a bit above-average, but most of the time it’s an average offering that works in the low-to-mid 70’s.

As the season went along, Richardson’s performance did improve a little bit. So did his velocity, though the uptick was only about 1 MPH from the start to the end of the year. That’s not nothing, though. The improvements should be viewed in a good light – he is still quite new to pitching.

With that said, at least right now, his velocity is fringe-average on his fastball, and none of the secondary offerings really jump out at you. There’s nothing wrong with that – he’s got three pitches that are average-ish on the Major League scale (on the raw side). And when you toss in that he pounds the strikezone with all of them, there’s plenty to like. Richardson is also a pretty good athlete, with some scouts believing that it will help his stuff improve over the next few years – including picking up more velocity and getting closer to where he was throwing in high school.

For now he looks like a guy who projects towards the back of a rotation, who could possibly have his stuff play up due to an ability to work the strikezone. If he’s able to find some of the lost velocity, or the curveball turns out a little better than currently projected you could get a higher upside than that down the road.

Interesting Stat on Lyon Richardson

He dominated at home in Dayton, posting a 1.63 ERA in 12 starts. On the road he posted a 6.55 ERA in 14 starts. The biggest difference was mostly in the home run rate – he allowed two at home in 55.1 innings and allowed eight in 57.2 innings on the road.

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22 Responses

  1. Tom

    19 years old. Pitched better at home. Hasn’t peaked in physical ability. Stuff has potential to develop. Seems like the young guy has quite a bit of ceiling left in every area. Does he go to Daytona or stay in Dayton?

  2. Norwood Nate

    Still think he’s ranked too low. Here’s what I don’t understand, he had a much better season in 2019 than 2018. He improved throughout the season in his first time in full season ball. Yet after 2018 he was ranked #11 (#14 midseason after a bit of a tough start) but at the end of the season he’s #17. The farm system is decidedly down at this point from where it was at this time last season. The rankings list lost numerous players to graduation and trades. Many players ahead of Richardson took steps backwards and outside of Lodolo, no new additions really much of anything on the field.
    The math doesn’t add up here, IMO, as to why he dropped after improving.

      • Norwood Nate

        I’m specifically referencing Doug’s rankings. I don’t find MLB to be a quality rankings site. And while I agree there’s not typically a big difference between #12-17, it’s more so the specific movement in Doug’s rankings that doesn’t make sense considering the other factors.

      • Oldtimer

        MLB said:

        Converted from outfielder to pitcher during his senior year in the Port St. Lucie area of Florida, Richardson hit 97 mph with his fastball ahead of the 2018 Draft. But during his first pro exposure at Rookie-level Greeneville, the right-hander did not display his best velocity on his fastball or breaking ball and rarely threw his slider. After he was looked over by doctors and being diagnosed with a sore elbow, the organization used maximum caution to shut him down just ahead of season’s end. When healthy, he’s shown two distinct breaking balls, though they run together at times, and he has a feel for a changeup he’ll need to start using more in games.

        With his athleticism and an ability to repeat his delivery, the Reds like Richardson’s upside well enough to still feel confident that he can find his way, though his first order of business will be to stay healthy.

    • Doug Gray

      Because in 2018 he had thrown harder – even if it was in high school. It was more believable that he was simply tired – and that was noted by multiple people that he looked tired once he reached pro ball – but this year, that velocity didn’t return at any point in the year. When the scouting report goes from “pitched 92-95, and touched 98” to “pitched 90-93 and touched 95”, that’s a big difference. That’s the biggest reason he’s fallen from a year ago to today.

      • Norwood Nate

        But his performance improved a good amount considering the level jump while others took a big step back. That means something to me. Velocity can be gained back, especially with Boddy in the mix. I think his results and improvements are bigger than the report he hit 98 in HS without having to manage his workload on regular rotation rest through a full season.
        Of the ten prospects ahead of him at the end of 2018 Senzel graduated, Trammell was traded, Greene didn’t play, Santillan took a step back, India maintained status quo, Stephenson improved, Siri took a small step back, Gutierrez and Bautista took big steps back, and Siani either status quo or slightly back. Of the ten guys ranked behind him only Garcia, Fairchild, and Aquino took big steps forward (with Aquino graduating) while most others took big steps back (Sugilio, Hernandez, Clementina, Mella, Marinan) or maintained status quo.

        It makes sense to me that if you go out and make real improvements on your production (in a bigger sample at a higher level) and those around you take steps back, then your ranking should not go down. Especially when the system as a whole is down a lot from the year before.

      • Doug Gray

        His performance improved over 2018, where he threw less than 30 innings. His ranking last year was based zero percent on his performance. So the improvement in the numbers this year changed absolutely nothing for me because I didn’t care a single bit about his performance in 2018 on the field. What I cared about in 2018 was the scouting report. In 2019 I cared about the performance and scouting report, but still lean more on the scouting report. And the scouting report wasn’t as good in 2019 as it was in 2018.

      • Norwood Nate

        Fair enough, and thanks for explaining a bit more of your process. I wasn’t aware that you didn’t factor in his 2018 performance at all into his initial ranking.

        I’m genuinely curious and not trying to be snarky, was Lodolo’s small sample size a factor in his initial ranking?

      • Doug Gray

        No, it wasn’t. The scouting report (both from others, and the one that I formulated based on what I saw from him in person twice and on video a few other times), however, was.

  3. Seat101

    This is what makes Doug’s prospect list so interesting to me. Progress is good and well earned the Pitcher a promotion to a tougher league yet his prospect is diminished by the lower velocity.

    I have high hopes for the new pitching regimen throughout the whole system. If it shows results then perhaps that can be considered when looking at pitching prospects’ prospects.

    But not now, I think.

    Next year is K/BB should be a good indication of how he handles the tougher level and the new instruction

  4. Oldtimer

    Interesting!

    1B prospect Evan White (No. 58 on @MLBPipeline Top 100) is set to sign long-term deal with @Mariners. Guaranteed $24 mil over first six years, also includes three club options. Should be announced Monday. White hit .293/.350/.488 in Double-A this year, also outstanding defender.

    • IndyRedsFan

      So…this raises an interesting question for discussion. Would the posters here offer Tyler Stephenson the same deal today?

      Without researching it a whole lot….I think I would.

      • Andrew

        Same deal would be pretty stiff. I think if both aides even entertained it, it would look more like 6 and 18 for TSteph. Catchers earning power in general is much lower than nearly anywhere else on the diamond

    • Wes

      Cards are eating some contracts with this strategy right now. And u could say reds are doing same thing w Tucker

      • Oldtimer

        Different in this case is that the player has never played MLB at all and barely AAA. Mariners are gambling he will be MLB soon.

  5. MK

    One concern I had early in 2019 about Lyon was he hit a wall in about the fourth inning and it went south right now. It became batting practice quickly. He learned some adjustments and improved as season went on.