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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