The majority of time he has been with the TinCaps Ronnie Richardson, 24, has been out in center field and batting leadoff. His job is to get on base and score runs and control the outfield. This year he has made only one error and next to Trea Turner, leads the team in on-base percentage at .413 and is close to averaging nearly a run a game.
This year with the TinCaps Ronnie Richardson has been doing his job.
Richardson was drafted in the sixteenth round by the Padres out of Central Florida University where he hit .305/.455/.457. In 2013 he spent the majority of his time with Eugene hitting .298/.475/.444 before being called up to Lake Elsinore for the final 16 games of the year.
This season he has been at Fort Wayne for the year hitting .275/.413/.392 and also seeing some time on the mound during blowout losses. After giving up two runs in his first outing, he has held the opposition scoreless in his last three appearances.
We caught up with Ronnie in early July, where upon meeting him the first impression is this the biggest short guy in baseball at five-foot-six and at least 190 lbs. - and all muscle. Richardson, looks like he could be playing in the backfield for the Chargers as much as playing the outfield in the Padres’ system.
Usually you see guys with huge amounts of power that have as high an on-base percentage as you do. What has been your secret this season?
Ronnie Richardson: I think its more of just having a patient approach and understanding my role in the offense as a leadoff guy and trying to get on base.
You have ran more in the past. Any reason why you are not running as much this year?
Ronnie Richardson: It’s more of the situations that are being presented. When you have guys like we have behind me you don’t want to run into outs. If they put the ball into the gap, I can still score. If they started to struggle, I might try to run a little more.
Can you give us a little idea of your background?
Ronnie Richardson: Sure, I went to Central Florida and was drafted in the sixteenth round of the 2012 draft by the Padres. I played my first year in Eugene and my second year bounced between Eugene and a little in Lake Elsinore.
This year I have been in Fort Wayne for the season.
What has been working for this year as opposed to the past two?
Ronnie Richardson: Being able to stay patient and draw so many walks. I think that is a big improvement. My first year I struck out more than I would have liked too but still drew a decent amount of walks.
I’ve cut down on the strikeouts and put more ball in play.
You also have a little bit of pop.
Ronnie Richardson: [laughs] I have a little surprise for the pitchers who catch to much of the plate with me. My junior year I hit nine home runs. I’m not sure it will happen again, but we will see.
One thing that has been surprising is when the team has been getting blown out this year you’ve gone on the mound this year and done pretty well.
You are five-foot-six, and a pretty solid 185 to 190 lbs. You don’t really fit the pitcher’s profile.
Ronnie Richardson: I’ve gotten four appearances but I used to pitch in college too. A lot of people say you are short and how do you throw so hard?
And I used to throw really hard - and I think I could have gone some places as a pitcher too - but I took the position player route because I need a little more action. I enjoy playing everyday too much.
What are you throwing out there?
Ronnie Richardson: The first time I went out they scored a few runs off of me because I threw all fastballs. Then again I’m not really airing it out either because I don’t want to blow out my arm and if I am out there we are just trying to get through this and save some of the guys in the bullpen.
The next time out I started to throw my cutter, the movement made them just get under the baseball or mishit it. It’s amazing how that works and they haven’t scored off of me since.
Isn’t the cutter the toughest pitch for you to hit too?
Ronnie Richardson: Definitely, as a hitter I like the straight ball and it doesn’t matter how fast you throw it. Once they start throwing the at ball in the high 80’s with movement and sink; that changes things.
Then we can have some problems.
Are you like most outfielders in that your favorite position is in center field?
Ronnie Richardson: It is definitely center because I like to be in control of everything. If I can get to a ball, then it’s mine.
Isn’t playing center for guys like you that can run the easiest of the three because you get the best view of the ball?
Ronnie Richardson: A lot of people say it’s easier but you also have so much responsibility because you also have to move your right and left fielders by the batter at the plate.
So yes, it is easier physically but there is much more pressure on you mentally when you are in center.
You were a switch-hitter coming out of college correct?
Ronnie Richardson: In college I did it, I just haven’t picked it back up yet.
What is the biggest area you are trying to improve upon in your game?
Ronnie Richardson: Just getting more consistent at the plate. More than just being patient, but getting better contact. Also, I want to get back to running more so I can avoid those questions when are you going to get more stolen bases laughs].