Lyon Richardson missed all of the 2022 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. He was back in time for instructional league after the regular season, but was limited to short stints as he worked his way back. His recovery went well and he looked good in instructional league and that led to the Cincinnati Reds adding him to the 40-man roster in November of 2022 to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

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When the regular season began in 2023, the Reds sent Richardson to Daytona to pitch in the Florida State League. With the weather not exactly being predictable and necessarily warm at the other levels of the system, a month with the Tortugas was in order. Richardson’s innings and pitch counts were limited, but he dominated in his three starts, allowing a run on five hits and a walk in 9.0 innings while striking out 18 of the 33 batters he faced.

The final week of April saw Cincinnati promote him from Single-A up to Double-A where he joined the Chattanooga Lookouts rotation. For the most part he didn’t skip a beat outside of his walk rate going up. He made 15 starts with the Lookouts and never allowed more than two runs in a start – though he was limited to no more than 4.0 innings and threw just 46.0 innings in those 15 starts.

Richardson was promoted to Triple-A Louisville at the end of July and threw 3.0 shutout innings with five strikeouts against Indianapolis in his debut. Things got better for him with his next start as he was called up for his big league debut on August 6th. The game wasn’t his best as he allowed four runs in 3.0 innings before returning to Triple-A. He’s make two starts for Louisville before getting called back up to Cincinnati where he would start the second game of doubleheaders against the Angels and the Cubs, allowing five earned runs in a combined 9.0 innings in those two starts before Seattle scored seven runs against him on September 6th. He was sent back to Triple-A after that and Durham torched him for seven runs in 0.2 innings on the 12th and then four more runs in 0.2 innings on the 17th before he finished out his season with 3.0 hitless innings against Iowa.

For all 2023 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: 207 lbs | Acquired: 2nd Round (2018 Draft)

Born: January 18, 2000

Fastball | Richardson shows above-average to plus velocity. He averaged 96.6 MPH this season with his 4-seamer.

Slider | An average offering that he only throws to right-handed hitters that works in the mid-80’s.

Curve | Another average breaking ball in his arsenal, it works in the upper 70’s.

Change Up | His best offering, it’s an above-average to plus pitch that works in the upper 80’s that he goes to often.

For a very large part of the 2023 season, Lyon Richardson was dominant. Coming off of Tommy John surgery he was limited in both his pitch count and his innings limit. The only games he pitched beyond the 4th inning where in his three big league starts during his second call up. It’s tough to say whether he faded down the stretch or whether he simply wasn’t quite ready for Triple-A and big league time, but he did struggle once August rolled around and he began to see more advanced hitters.

Richardson clearly has the stuff to pitch at the highest level. He’s got four or five different offerings (five if we count the 4-seamer and 2-seamer as different looks) and they’re all at least average pitches. What he’s got to do is throw more strikes. Between Triple-A and the big leagues he walked 30 batters in 31.0 innings.

While his walk rate was better in Double-A, he still battled some inconsistency with his control while with Chattanooga. In 2024, a year further removed from Tommy John surgery and with a season under his belt post-surgery, it will be worth keeping on eye on as to how consistent he is and whether his control can improve. Along with that, he’s going to have to show that he can pitch deeper into games. While the club was limiting him in his usage and there wasn’t much he could do about those limitations, he didn’t pitch into the 5th inning in any of his 24 minor league starts during the 2023 season and didn’t complete the 5th inning in any of his three big league games in which he did pitch into the 5th.

Cincinnati is likely to give him time to continue to develop as a starter. He lost a year in 2020 when the minor league season was cancelled and then he lost another year due to injury. He’ll be 24-years-old when spring training begins, so there’s still plenty of time to let things play out as a starter. If they don’t work then there’s plenty in his profile that suggests he could be a high-leverage reliever, but that’s probably not something the club explores in the immediate future.

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Interesting Stat on Lyon Richardson

His ERA in his first 19 starts across three levels was 1.86. His ERA in his final nine starts of the year – all between Triple-A and MLB – was 9.96.

15 Responses

  1. BK

    For a pitcher at AAA and on the 40-man roster, a lack of command is a huge concern. Advanced hitters abuse them by working walks, elevating their pitch counts, and then waylaying center cut pitches. In short, Richardson’s ceiling is mid-rotation starter, but his floor is a pitcher that can’t handle AAA. To me, that places him as an extreme risk as a prospect.

    Based on the prospect rankings he entered the offseason as #7 on the Reds depth chart placing him high enough that he should be expected to contribute this season. That’s not a good place for a team hoping to compete for the division.

    Some have suggested using Lodolo in the bullpen or as an opener. Starting pitching remains the coin of the realm. Lodolo will start even if he has innings limits. The Reds simply don’t have the depth to use him as a long reliever/ opener. This is also why I’m confident the Reds will acquire another starter. It’s also why trading one of Greene, Lodolo, Abbott, Ashcraft, Williamson, or Phillips (also a pitcher still carrying a lot of risk) would be counterproductive.

    Lastly, is it possible Spiers has passed Richardson this offseason with a fantastic AFL showing?

    • Optimist

      Save this comment for July. Consensus seems to have Phillips edging ahead of Richardson, but they each have 3 months to address the issues.

      Richardson may be a better relief prospect, but that’s a decision for the post-season.

      They still need a good starter for the MLB season AND to avoid plundering depth as they have done for a while. These guys can finish developing.

    • MBS

      I do agree we need another starter. I want a high end guy, but honestly if they sign a Giolito type, at least it will give us some needed depth.

      As far as Lodolo goes, I just want to get him stretched out as well as we can in 24, so in 25 he’s a legitimate candidate for the rotation. Making the rotation in 25 isn’t going to be easy.

      Abbott, Greene, Williamson, Ashcraft, Lodolo, Petty, Lowder, Phillips, Richardson, Aguiar, Stoudt, Roa. That’s 12 guys who want 1 of 5 spots. Some of the guys on the back side of this list will likely end up in the pen. That’s not including Martinez who could be a factor in this, I’m just assuming he declines his option for next year.

      • MBS

        I left out Spires, now he probably is headed to the pen, but the depth we are approaching is impressive. I can’t wait to see the 40 man on opening day 2025.

      • Stock

        This depth is exactly why I don’t want Cease. Why pay for 2 years when all we really need is 1. Not a big fan of Bieber but would rather have him over Cease because of the cost for the extra year. I don’t want to acquire another pitcher unless there is potential he becomes our best pitcher.

        Framber Valdez, Jesus Luzardo, Braxton Garrett, Edward Cabrera and Max Meyer are names I would love to add.

      • BK

        While appreciate what you are trying to do the other way to approach the issue is let him start and option/IL him when he hits his innings limit, if he actually has one.

      • Optimist

        I’m with Stock on the “one year” issue. 2024 is the season to sort the rotation for 2025 – plenty of good choices and competition to see who succeeds. 2024 is the season to see the opposite in the field – who will fail or falter in hitting; hoping they all improve, but expecting someone or two to spend time in AAA.

      • BK

        I agree, I don’t think we’ll be as concerned about the Reds pitching next offseason, although you really can’t have too much.

      • DaveCT

        Optimist, I agree about the sorting task at hand. I do think, though, we may also see these young guys really take off this year. In which case, we may see them pitch more effectively deeper into the season and into a playoff run.

        This is likely splitting hairs, as to when and how much sorting time is required, be it all of 24 or somewhat less. But what does encourage me are comps to other talented, young pitching staffs, and how quickly guys emerged. Seattle is my best example (I don’t watch enough other teams to really speak knowledgeably about them, ie Florida).

        But, with Robbie Ray and Marco Gonzales going down, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert stepped up, as did Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo. Given the sheer talent among our young starters, and given their first full seasons at GABP gotten out of the way (including development of their bodies to handle the load), it can be done.

  2. Stock

    Lack of control is common the first year after TJS. Lets see how things work out in 2024.

    Currently I have Martinez as #6, Phillips at #7 and Richardson at #8. If Richardson can not get his BB he could drop to #9 behind Spiers. By midseason Lowder and Petty could pass him by.

    • BK

      His control in 2021 was only slightly better. I’m not saying to give up on him, but I’ve seen a lots of guys with great stuff that could not harness their pitches. Sort of life a position player that can do everything but hit.

    • DaveCT

      Big drop-offs for both Richardson and Phillips after losing the pre-tacked ball at AA. Some, but not much, drop-off for Abbott.

      One point may be that the two power arms had more difficulty with the ML ball used at AAA and the ML’s than the more command and control guy.*

      Another point may be that the pre-tacked ball masked some their more accurate production.

      *The command and control pitcher already being more advanced anyway, point well taken. But he didn’t regress (or return to his average)

  3. MK

    Though he has stuff, he has never really had even average performance. Talked to him when he was at Greeneville and when drafted he thought he would be an outfielder. So, probably doesn’t have the mound experience other draftees do. This should be his year being two years off of TJ.

  4. George M

    Thanks for all the hard work you do Doug. Just want to wish you and your family a very Merry and Blessed Holidays.

  5. Mario

    I like Richardson and he’s one of the guys that give this team really good depth in 2024. He likely starts in AAA barring an injury.

    It seems free agent pitchers that the Reds would be willing to pay are depleted so almost time to roll with the guys they have barring a trade that will almost certainly end up being a mistake. Even if the Reds signed Montgomery, they would still need guys like Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, Abbott, Phillips, Stoudt, and Richardson to step up and be more than just “potential”. I’m banking on that to happen. DJ can coach pitchers. They just need to stay healthy. One (hopefully not more than one) will suffer a season ending injury. Richardson can be the guy to step up when that happens.