Oakland A's Prospect Profile: Jamie Richmond

Earlier this month, the Oakland A's sent outfielder Mark Kotsay to the Atlanta Braves for two prospects. OaklandClubhouse.com is taking a closer look at the two players that the A's acquired. We conclude with a profile of right-handed pitcher Jamie Richmond.

Name: Jamie Richmond
DOB: 3/23/86
H/W: 6'3''/ 190 LB
B/T: R/R

Unlike his trade partner in the Mark Kotsay deal — Joey Devine — Jamie Richmond has had a relatively low-profile start to his career. Unlike Devine, who was a highly publicized first-round pick, Richmond was a late-round, draft-and-follow selection out of Texarkana Junior College in 2004. He was a late-inning reliever for Texarkana and was signed in 2005 by the Atlanta Braves.

Richmond continued his work in the bullpen during his pro debut season, making eight relief appearances for the Braves' Rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2005. He showed well in that limited appearance, allowing only seven hits and two walks in 12.2 innings of work. He struck out 12.

The Braves took it slow with Richmond in 2006, choosing to send the 20-year-old to a short-season affiliate rather than pushing him ahead to a full-season team. Richmond took the time during extended spring training to tweak his mechanics and won a spot as a starting pitcher for the short-season Appalachian League affiliate Danville Braves. The lanky right-hander was nearly unhittable for Danville during the short-season. He made 14 appearances (12 starts) and went 7-1 with a 1.21 ERA. Richmond didn't allow a homer and held opposing batters to a .210 BAA.

What was most striking about Richmond's 2006 season, however, was his pinpoint control. The righty walked only four batters in 67 innings while striking out 52. That effort earned Richmond a number of honors, including the Appalachian League's Pitcher of the Year award.

Richmond was promoted to Low-A Rome of the South Atlantic League in 2007. Although his numbers weren't quite as brilliant as they were in 2006, Richmond's stats were still impressive. He posted a 3.05 ERA in a career-high 138.2 innings. Richmond continued to show his good control, walking only 25. He struck out only 98 batters, however, and allowed 24 unearned runs. Richmond had a strong finish to season, posting a 3.10 post-All-Star break ERA and walking only nine in 72.2 innings.

Scouting Report
Richmond's greatest asset as a pitcher is his control, which is outstanding. He doesn't possess an overpowering fastball, but he can throw it where he wants to and he gets some late movement with the pitch. Richmond generally sits in the 88-91 MPH range with his fastball and he can hit 93 MPH when he is really reaching back for something extra. He also has a slurvy curveball and a developing change-up.

Bill Shanks of OaklandClubhouse.com's sister site The Braves Show, spoke to scouts and coaches about Richmond during the 2007 season. They had this to say about his stuff:

"His fastball sits between 90-92 mph. His fastball is what it is. It's got decent movement. He's getting to where he needs to use a two-seamer more to get more ground balls."

"His breaking ball can be better. It needs more bite and more consistency. The changeup has improved."

Richmond has good size for a starting pitcher, although he still has some room to fill out his 6'3'' frame. He repeats his mechanics well and has a good feel for pitching, mixing his three offerings with success. Richmond has garnered praise for his work ethic and his willingness to take what he learns in side sessions and in the Instructional Leagues into his in-game performances.

"He's not a flashy pitcher. He's lanky, thin, wiry. There's nothing special about him, yet he throws strikes and gets outs. He just gets people out. He's a battler. He's hard on himself. He just wants to get the job done. He's a bit harder to project since his stuff is average. He's had some blister problems," a scout/coach told Shanks.

Richmond saw a spike in the number of hits per inning that he allowed in 2007, in part because he was almost always in the strike zone with his pitches, making it easier for hitters to make consistent contact. This could be a problem for Richmond as he moves into more advanced levels against more experienced hitters. All three of his pitches are quality offerings, but none of them are true out-pitches. The A's may work with Richmond to develop a cut fastball or a split-finger that could give him some added deception and swing-and-miss to his game.

"Jamie works fast. He could get you ground balls as a reliever. He's got a chance to pitch in the big leagues," a scout/coach told Shanks.

Richmond will be 22 throughout the 2008 season. He is likely to be sent to High-A Stockton, where he may have to pitch out of the bullpen initially if the A's send Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Fautino De Los Santos, Henry Rodriguez, Jason Fernandez, Jared Lansford, Scott Deal, Travis Banwart and Graham Godfrey to Stockton. Richmond's future could be in the bullpen regardless, where his plus-command might play up better than in the rotation.

If Richmond can add a deception pitch, he could have a solid career as a major-league reliever. He profiles similarly to a young Justin Duchscherer when Duchscherer was moving up the Boston Red Sox chain. Duchscherer's career took off when he refined his 12-6 curveball and added a cut fastball to his repertoire. Richmond could have a similar rise if he can improve one of his secondary pitches and add another pitch that keeps away from contact.

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