MadFriars' Interview: Ronnie Richardson

Ronnie Richardson, 22, was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the sixteenth round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Central Florida.

The 5'7" switch-hitter was described by Padres' Director of Minor League Development Randy Smith as having the quintessential "small man's game" built around speed and defense.

After three seasons with the Knights, including this year where he hit .305/.480/.505 with 24 stolen bases and an impressive 41/26 base-on-balls to strikeout ratio he elected to turn pro and forego his senior year.

In Eugene, as with many college players coming off of a full season, he has been up and down but he has shown an ability to get on with a .403 on-base percentage which is the first thing anyone looks for in a leadoff hitter.

We caught up with the Eugene centerfielder before a recent home game to find out how his adjustment to the pro game has been going.

How has the adjustment to professional baseball been going?

Ronnie Richardson: The short-season leagues are kind of like college in that they are fastball dominant. Most of the pitchers have much more confidence in their fastballs than they do with their off-speed or breaking stuff.

Another difference is college is much more structured. There is always someone telling you what to do and when to do it. Here it's much more about you creating your own routine in addition to what you need to get done at the park.

How much experience did you have hitting with wooden bats before turning pro?

Ronnie Richardson: Being from Florida we played year around, so in the off-season I played in a few wooden bat leagues in addition to the Cape Cod League.

With your speed don't wooden bats help your bunting?

Ronnie Richardson: You know they should but right now they aren't. [laughs]. For some reason I haven't been able to slow the ball down as much as I would like; but yes, it usually will benefit guys with my type of game.

You were drafted in the eleventh round out of high school by the Twins in 2009. What was the biggest reason that you didn't go pro then?

Ronnie Richardson: I was young and the numbers didn't really work out. Also I really liked the UCF program.

How did going to UCF make you a better player?

Ronnie Richardson: Mainly it just helped me to mature. The coaches were tough and tried to get the very best out of us every day.

When did you start switch-hitting and what is the toughest part about it?

Ronnie Richardson: I started to switch-hit my freshman year of college. The coaches thought it would really help my game. For me the toughest part of it is hitting the inside fastball.

re you the same hitter on both sides of the plate?

Ronnie Richardson: I try to be and that is one of my goals when I do work in the cage. The biggest problem I have is I can sometimes get a little too big on the right side which can get me into some trouble.

You set a school record for being hit by pitches including being hit 35 times this year in 61 games. Explain this.

Ronnie Richardson: No one really likes getting hit but I also need to get on base anyway I can. I had a teammate who used to hold the record before me that is now with the Yankee organization and I was giving him a hard time once about being hit so much.

He told me that it's not fun but he enjoys standing on first base too.

You played 61 games at Central Florida this year and have 37 under your belt now. How is your body and mind holding up?

Ronnie Richardson: I'm getting a chance to do what I love so I'm feeling great. I'm getting my workouts in twice a week and just trying my best to get my rest and stay fresh.

Now that you have had some experience in pro ball what is the biggest thing you are going to work on in the off-season?

Ronnie Richardson: The big thing about being a pro is there are so many games that you need to be consistent in everything you do. I'm going to work on repeating my swing and try to get a little faster.

I also might be taking some ground balls to play a little second but I'm sure they will let me know during the Instructs.

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