Prospect Scouting Report: Juan Richardson

The big question with Juan Richardson is whether he will ever live up to the potential that was put on him early in his minor league career. After signing with the Phillies as an amateur free agent, Richardson progressed to a point where he was being figured prominently in the future of the Phillies. Now, after some injuries, Richardson is slowly slipping from the ranks of the "futures" in the scheme of things.

Juan Richardson came into the Phillies organization and didn't make an immediate impact. It took a couple of seasons, but slowly, Richardson started to make his mark. In 2001, Richardson hit 22 homeruns at Lakewood, which officially put him on the map. He followed that up with a strong season in 2002 when he hit another 18 homeruns at Clearwater.

As 2003 started, Richardson was being looked at as a true prospect that had somehow come out of nowhere. In mid-June, Richardson suffered a severely sprained ankle and missed the rest of the season. The injury would hamper him into the 2004 campaign and also cut short what might have been a monster season for Richardson in 2003. When he went down with the injury, Richardson had already launched 15 homeruns and was hitting .270 at Reading. There was talk of a promotion to AAA and perhaps, even a major league call-up in September, but the ankle injury changed all of that.

1999 Gulf Coast League 5 23 .226 164 27 11 46 7 .277
1999 Piedmont 0 2 .167 12 0 1 5 0 .214
1999 Batavia 1 2 .125 24 1 2 8 0 .192
2000 Piedmont 2 15 .242 149 19 17 43 0 .319
2000 Batavia 0 2 .154 39 0 3 15 0 .214
2001 Lakewood 22 83 .240 505 68 15 51 7 .262
2002 Clearwater 18 83 .257 456 52 44 122 0 .339
2003 Reading 15 34 .270 248 37 17 69 2 .327
2004 Clearwater 4 12 .220 159 9 5 44 0 .244
2004 Reading 5 13 .282 71 10 1 16 0 .297
Career 72 269 .243 1827 223 152 515 16 .307

Batting and Power: Richardson somehow developed power starting with the 2001 season, but the Phillies thought the power was there all along. His .243 average in the minors isn't what the Phillies are looking for, but most of the damage to his average was done early in his minor league career. Richardson will have to be both healthy and productive in 2005 to regain his prospect footing.

Baserunning and Speed: Richardson has a little bit of speed, but that's not what's going to get him to the majors. His baserunning instincts are average, but again, that's not the biggest part of his game.

Defense: Richardson's ankle injury really hurt his defense and slowed him moving left and right. Before the injury, Richardson was solid at third and even led the Gulf Coast League in fielding by a third baseman in his debut season. He's not a gold glove caliber player, but if his ankle is completely healed and he returns to form, he can be at least an average defensive third baseman.

Projection: Richardson is entering an important season in his development. It's likely that he'll start the 2005 season at AAA Scranton and he needs to show that he is healthy and that he can pick up where he left off before his ankle injury. He will be 26 when spring training starts, putting him at an age where the Phillies will need to see real major league potential or else Richardson's spot on the 40 man roster will be in jeopardy.

ETA: With a strong 2005 season, there's no reason why Richardson won't be a September call-up. He may even get a call during the season, depending how things are going, but it's likely they'll look for him to stay at AAA all season. Keep in mind that David Bell has two seasons left on his contract. If Richardson has good minor league numbers in 2005, he could pick up a utility job in '06 and be in line to step into Bell's shoes after that.

Comparison: Rob Mackowiak (Pittsburgh) without the ability to play various positions. It's not likely that Richardson will hit for a high average, but he will deliver some power and put up decent numbers across the board.

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