Samuel Richardson, the 17-year-old Missouri commit, stole the show at the recent States Play Invitational.
The 6-foot-1 and 190-pound power hitter went yard to help put the West ahead on Sunday in their 5-1 win. Richardson’s big hit happened to be the only time a player went deep in the three games played, and he sought of spoke it into existence.
On Friday during batting practice, Richardson who had switched teams was asked if he was the player who switched teams at the last minute. Richardson replied, “yes.”
The reporter followed up with, “Going to go deep and win the game for the West, huh?”
In a weekend short of long ball theatrics, Richardson’s moonshot more than made up for it. His shot was so powerful it had the Eastern team “oohing and ahhing” in disbelief afterwards.
Players responded with ….
“That was a bomb.”
Even Richardson chimed in on his accomplishment …
“I knew I had my timing down: I got it down on deck. I just knew that if he threw me a pitch in the zone, I couldn’t miss it.”
“And I didn’t miss it.”
Richardson Thanks Higher Power For Talent He Has
Following his whirlwind moment of hitting a homer, an ecstatic and euphoric Richardson had this to say.
“First of all, I was thanking God. And then I was like, Man I just hit a more run in a Major League Spring Training Park. Just a lot of excitement.”
That had to be a dream come true for the 17-year-old who’s a 2024 MLB Draft prospect. The big strong Mizzou commit projects as a third baseman. For his efforts Richardson not only received his MVP trophy, but two tickets to Game 2 of this year’s World Series. And while we have no idea where that game will take place, we do know Richardson will be in attendance, thinking about when his moment comes to be on the other side of the equation as an MLB player.
Richardson Has Opposite Field And Pulling Power At Age 17
Richardson is blessed with pure, raw power that allows him to spray the baseball to all parts of the field. He’s capable of going yard as evidenced by his big homer in the All-Star Game. But he’s also shown an ability to go opposite field with pop. He also pulls the ball really well for someone so young.
The belief is while at Mizzou he’ll clean up some mechanical and technical things against some pro-level SEC pitching. And when it comes time, he’ll be a pro-ready hitter, ready to help a MLB team right away at the plate.
The St. Louis Cardinals are sitting comfortably ahead in the NL Central race at 87-61. They have an eight-game lead over the Brewers with 14 games left in the regular season. Meaning they’ve pretty much assured themselves of a playoff spot again. That’s long been the standard in St. Louis; win division titles and compete for World Series championships. Amidst the hoopla of the pennant race, Cardinals great Albert Pujols closing in on 700 career homers. Pujols is looking to become the fourth player in MLB history to hit 700 dingers, joining Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth. Pujols has been on a tear since the beginning of August hitting 12 homers to lift his total to 698 as the season nears its conclusion.
The Next Big Thing In St. Louis
With Pujols retiring the cupboard isn’t bare as far as prolific power hitters in St. Louis go. Rising star Jordan Walker is set to be the cornerstone piece for the Cards going forward. Walker is a 6-foot-5 and 250-pound slugger who also hits for average.
Walker Has Showcased Unique Hitting Ability With Springfield: He’ll Have Company In The AFL
his past season, which ended Sunday, Walker had a very nice slash line of .308/.390/.508. He also went yard 18 times, tallying 64 RBI, 30 doubles and three triples in 116 games. Walker also displayed his talents on the base pads stealing 22 bases in 27 attempts.
The Cardinals trust that Walker and some of his teammates like Tink Hence and Masyn Winn will pan out in the majors. They decided to not pursue Washington Nationals superstar Juan Soto at the trade deadline, instead opting to build with their own homegrown players.
Jordan Walker Is Plowing Through The Minors | MLBbro With Freakish Talent & Superstar Potential
Leading up to the trade deadline, Walker’s name was in the news often. If the team wanted to trade for the aforementioned Soto, it would cost at least Walker and Winn. Walker kept his cool and focused on the task at hand. Here’s what he told MLB.com in early August.
“I don’t really think too much into it. I just feel like that’s going to be too much to think about during the season when it’s already tough. Whatever happens, happens. I just want to play my game. Masyn and I, people have asked us that before, but we really don’t think too much about it.”
Winn and Hence will also be joining Walker in the AFL, as the Cardinals continue to prep and develop each player to be called up. Winn is the club’s No.2 ranked prospect and Hence is their No.6 ranked prospect. Both are also ranked in the top 100 of MLB Pipeline.
Walker Will Be Triple-A Memphis Next Season
Following his appearance in the AFL, Walker will be called up to Triple-A Memphis, where he’ll face better and more experienced pitching. With his rapid development and elite skillset, the belief is he’ll get his first swings in the majors at some point during the 2023 season. And that could be just in time as the Cards will be looking to replace the franchise’s greatest player in Pujols.
Some believe Walker also possesses the versatile skillset to be the Cardinals leadoff hitter when called up. Wouldn’t be surprising to see him leading off in the AFL to get acclimated to being a party starter. Imagine that kind of power, hitting ability and base pad running at the top of the order. It would definitely be something we haven’t seen often. And for manager Oliver Marmol it would surely be a welcomed sight.
The Tampa Bay Rays have long prided themselves on competing in an uber tough American League East with shrewd drafting, outside-the-box talent evaluation and an elite application of advanced metrics.
Tampa has held its own in a division which features powerhouse franchises like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. And with the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles showing some real signs of life, it’s imperative that the Rays — who aren’t known for pursuing All-star free agents — keep adding quality talent to the roster. Adding someone of rookie Chandler Simpson’s talent level (70th pick in the 2022 Draft) only increases that talent pool and keeps the foundation solid for the future.
Chandler is a smooth, high average slugging second baseman and shortstop who’s didn’t strikeout more than sixteen times in each of his final two college seasons. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets star stole the show at the plate on many occasions, displaying the innate ability to pull the baseball, while hitting for average and with power.
Simpson Possesses Great Speed
During his last year at GT, Simpson stole 27 bases, which is another tool that will serve him well at the next level. His coach at GT, Danny Hall, said he’s never seen a player with speed like Simpson. Hall has coached baseball for over four decades and had this to say about his star pupil.
“I’ve never seen anyone score from second base on a sacrifice fly.”
“If it’s anyone else running you’re not scoring in that situation.”
Simpson has shown a knack for bunting and turning them into base hits. He’s routinely turned singles into triples. Beating out grounders is something he does regularly. He’s so impressive on the base pads and in the field, Rays senior director of amateur scouting Rob Metzler described his as having “top-of-the-scale” speed.
Simpson’s bat along with that speed makes him a dangerous weapon. He led all of NCAA baseball with a whopping (.433) batting average. With his elite wheels the Rays plan is to develop him as an outfielder, probably centerfield with his elite range and athleticism.
Perry Roth, his coach at UAB for two seasons, who’s now his hitting coach at Birmingham Class-A, spoke on the demise of baseball and how Simpson has avoided all of that.
“Baseball has become kinda one-sided to a certain extent of one of its three outcomes: walk, homerun or strikeout.”
“And he’s outside of that norm.”
Simpson prides himself on being unrelenting and aggressive at all times on the field. He believes that’s the only way to play the game. He also uses that motto as it pertains to his low strikeout numbers, which is proof of the hard work he puts into his craft daily.
“Just trying to have that relentlessness of not accepting strikeouts,” Simpson said. In an age where the strikeout is as common as the walk, Simpson is dedicated to contact with impact.
Simpson sounds just like most Rays players, fundamentally sound and prepared. That’s how the Rays have been able to compete in a division where two of their rivals have unlimited resources and deep pockets. Tampa has to resort to the throwback style to keep up, and that’s draft talented baseball players to have any chance to keep up and compete.
The Seattle Mariners are in the thick of a playoff push sitting at 76-59 with the third-best record in the American League behind the Houston Astros and New York Yankees. Led by rookie slugger Julio Rodriguez and MLBbro shortstop JP Crawford things in the Pacific Northwest are looking up.
The Mariners seem to be in good position to be pretty formidable for years to come. The team’s farm system keeps producing gems. In 2021, the franchise drafted Harry Ford with their first pick of the amateur draft and 12th pick overall. Ford is a hard-hitting catcher whose skillet has been likened to that of former Houston Astros legend and Baseball Hall of Famer, Craig Biggio.
Mariners Brass Was All-In On Ford
Ford has the unique distinction of being the first high school player selected during GM Jerry Diputo’s regime. Prior to the draft, Diputo, his assistant GM Justin Hollander and the team’s amateur director of scouting Scott Hunter flew to Atlanta to watch the North Cobb High School stud workout for them. Ford dazzled with an effortless swing and more than adequate throwing arm. The trio knew then he was what they wanted in the upcoming draft. When asked about the trip across the country to see Ford up close, Diputo said this.
“Very much worth it.”
“Harry is a unique five-tool player since he is a catcher. A tremendous athlete that will thrive in all areas of the game. Even though he could play centerfield or even second base we see Harry as a catcher that has a chance to impact the game with not only his bat and defense, but also with his legs as he is a plus runner. We couldn’t be more thrilled to add an athlete like this to our system.”
That was the Mariners brass displaying the excitement of drafting Ford as their future catcher. In a league where Black players are slim pickings, Black catchers are even more rare.
Ford Showed Well In Limited Action In 2021: Continued In 2022
Ford hit the road running once he joined the team for 19 games in the Arizona Complex League. While he struggled a bit, as expected he still persevered and worked out the kinks. This season he joined Low-A Modesto of the California. There he joined two other Mariners prospects in pitcher Michael Morales and shortstop Edwin Arroyo. Those three make up some of the core of the future for the Mariners. With Ford having the highest upside in most scout’s view.
While Ford missed time with a sore shoulder, when he got healthy, he hit a respectable (.272), with three home runs, 16 RBIs. He also had as many walks (21) as strikeouts (18).
Ford has plenty of time to develop as the Mariners have placed an arrival date of 2025 for their prized prospect. Over the next few seasons his development will be huge for the Mariners. Ford has all the tools to be an All-Star caliber catcher in the majors, and the belief is he will be.
The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the best run franchises in all of baseball. Routinely competing for championships and perennial playoff contenders, the Cardinals have also been great at drafting and building their farm system, which has been a key component in keeping them relevant contenders year-in-and-year-out.
In fact, the Cardinals were very close to trading for Nationals superstar Juan Soto earlier this month but instead decided to trust in their young, talented prospects. One of those pieces of the future is shortstop Masyn Winn. The dynamic Winn is blessed with elite range and a cannon for an arm. Winn is a two-way prospect who’s flashed his 100.5 MPH pitching ability as well.
But Winn knows he’ll likely make his money playing shortstop when he is called up to the majors. Winn recently talked about former Cardinals defensive stalwart, Jose Oquendo who handled a myriad of positions in the infield for “Da Lou” during his 1190-game career with the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals (1983-1995). He’s played every position on the field at least once in his career. Oquendo was a member of the Cards’ two most recent World Series championship teams (2006 and 2011) as a coach. He now serves as the minor league infield coordinator for the Cards.
He works with Winn often and wants to see the young talent excel at what he does. In an interview last month, Winn talked about working with Oquendo and how Oquendo pushes his players to work at getting better defensively.
“You can just tell that everything he’s trying to teach me, everything he’s trying to get me to do, you go back and it’s all there in the videos of him doing it, like speaking the same language. He wants me — well, it’s not that he wants me to be like him. But he wants me to be consistent. He wants me to be defensively great like he was.”
Winn is currently playing for Class AA- Springfield, after being drafted in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft.
Winn’s Two-Way Ability Had Teams High On Him: But Some Wanting A Pitcher, Others An Infielder
With Winn’s two-way skillset resembling current Angels superstar and reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani’s, teams seem to be split on what position they project Winn manning at the MLB level. Winn was named the starting shortstop for the NL in last month’s Futures Game. That was an eye opener and showed Winn why he’s in the position he’s in.
“I love pitching, but I’m here for a reason, and that’s because I’m playing pretty well at shortstop,” Winn acknowledged. “I’m falling in love with hitting and, especially, defense. Working with Oquendo has given me a lot of pride in working on defense. I’m trying to be good out there. And it’s a lot of fun thinking about the next play. I want to make a great play. I don’t want to be just waiting there.”
Winn Hopes To Follow The Great Ozzie Smith
When you think of Cardinals shortstops the first and last name which comes to mind is “The Wizard of Oz,” aka Ozzie Smith, who made the position look easy, even though it’s one of the most physically demanding on the diamond. Smith, a 15-time All-Star, and 13-time Gold Glove Award winner is in the Baseball Hall of Fame because of what he did with his web. His unreal, wizard-like defense. The guy was downright amazing. Winn’s aspirations to be Iike Ozzie and Oquendo can only lead to success for the 20-year-old.
In fact, the Cardinals like his development so much he’s slated to be called up in early 2024.
With Winn moving up the ranks and Jordan Walker (Cardinals No.1 ranked prospect and the No.6 ranked prospect overall according to MLB Pipeline) possibly getting the call-up soon, the Cards have MLBbro talent on deck. The Cards are in good shape but still need consistent production around Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. That means Winn could see a call-up in late 2023, instead of 2024.