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Below is Clayton Richard’s start against Richmond tonight condensed into roughly three minutes and 45 seconds.
When Charlotte Knights manager Marc Bombard said that Richard worked faster than anybody he’d ever seen during his last start against the Triple-A Braves affiliate, I doubt he was exaggerating. When the elements are right — that is, when the batter doesn’t step out after taking a pitch — about six seconds pass from when the ball hits the catcher’s mitt to when Richard releases the ball again. He does not dick around. The video ends with a three-pitch strikeout that I condensed slightly, but in real time, he disposed of the hitter in 23 seconds.
It appeared that the Braves tried to knock Richard off his game early by stepping out or calling time in the box and making Richard wait on the rubber — which he will do. He looks a little like Paul Byrd, rocking back and forth on the mound while waiting for the batter to set. In fact, it’s the only way he looks like Byrd.
They fazed him not, unless you consider Richard walking his first batter in 21 innings at Triple-A a victory. He walked the leadoff batter in the second inning, and got into a little subsequent hot water when he gave up a double to the next batter, but worked around it with a soft lineout, strikeout and pop-out.
He looked to be a three-pitch pitcher — two-seam fastball, curve and a change. His sinker had a lot of movement on it, and he appeared to do a nice job of keeping his change away from right-handers, while using the curve against lefties. There were four hard-hit (fair) balls on the night — three are on the video, and the other was a liner that ended up in Javier Castillo’s mitt at third. He induces plenty of weak contact, which is why he’s confident enough to be efficient as all get-out. He needed only 72 pitches over six innings.
The only pickoff move Richard made appeared to be a show-me version that you’ll see on the video. He has to have a better one — at least I’m hoping. The same small sample size can be applied to his defense. He fielded three chances cleanly, but his soft throws looked a little awkward. One of them pulled Royce Huffman off the bag, and he barely got back in time for the out.
The biggest caveat is that Richmond’s lineup was not stacked with hot prospects or even AAAA hitters. But given that context, he did exactly what he had to do. Outside of one bad fastball that resulted in a two-run homer, he didn’t let bad hitters beat him.
A couple other notes on Charlotte’s 9-3 victory over Richmond:
*Jason Bourgeois had two triples on the night, but one should’ve been a lineout to center. The problem is that in Richmond’s stadium around 7:10 p.m. (he was the first batter of the game), the center fielder is looking directly into the sun on balls hit right at him, while right field and left field are in the shade. He lost a hard-hit but catchable ball off contact, and Bourgeois made it to third easily.
The second triple, however, was all his bat and speed. He smoked some liners today.
*Cole Armstrong made his Triple-A debut and went 5-for-5. I thought he only had four hits, because a liner to second that was effectively dropped was initially ruled an error. He had three solid liners and one seeing-eye single through the hole on the left side.
*I have video of Chris Getz and David Cook, and will get to them when I get home. Cook hit two warning-track shots the opposite way, while Getz got two cheap RBI early and then made better contact later.
Minor league roundup:
- Mississippi 6, Birmingham 1
- Kyle McCulloch was rocked for 11 hits and six runs over 3 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out three.
- Shaun Babula (3 1/3 IP) and Ryan Rote held the Braves hitless the rest of the way.
- Victor Mercedes had one of the Barons’ four hits, the only extra-base hit (a double) and the lone RBI.
- Lynchburg 8, Winston-Salem 7
- John Shelby doubled, tripled and scored twice.
- Brandon Allen hit a solo homer, his 13th; Brett Bonvechio drove in two.
- Anthony Carter continues to struggle in High-A ball, giving up six runs on six hits (including two homers) in four innings.
- Kanekoa Teixeira blew the save by giving up two unearned runs.
- Kannapolis 20, Greensboro 6
- Eduardo Escobar led the onslaught with four hits (two doubles), four runs and four RBI.
- Mark Fleisher joined Escobar with four hits and four driven in.
- Christian Marrero and John Curtis each had three hits, a homer and three RBI.
- Lucas Harrell struck out four over three shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk.
- Bristol 14, Bluefield 4
- Brandon Short drove in six runs as he fell short of the cycle by a homer.
- Jorge Castillo went 3-for-4 with four runs scored. Andrew Garcia also had a three-hit day.
- Gregory Infante allowed one run over six innings while striking out seven.
- Billings 4, Great Falls 2
- Frank Rosario struck out seven over six innings of one-hit ball.
- Ronald Morales fanned three over two scoreless innings of relief.
- Brent Morel and Doug Thennis each had two hits.