RC Interview with Hilton Richardson

The Royals selected Hilton Richardson in the seventh round of the 2007 draft. The outfielder began his career in the Arizona League last year, hitting just .199 in his first exposure to professional pitching. This season, however, the 19-year-old is much improved, and he's been one of the best bats on a young Burlington Royals squad. RC recently spoke with Richardson about his game.

Royals Corner: Hilton, how do you feel your season's going so far, individually?

Hilton Richardson: I think I've been able to make a big improvement since last year. I've been a lot more consistent with the bat, a lot more aggressive in the outfield. So far I feel like it's been really successful for me.

RC: What did you do over the offseason to get ready for this season?

HR: The offseason is more building up that confidence. Coming out of high school last year, there was a big difference between pro baseball and high school. Building up that confidence, working out with the pro pitchers back home – I started making those connections. And going up there with a plan and being aggressive with the bat. Being confident I'd say is the biggest part, and believing in myself.

Richardson is hitting .264/.339/.330 this season for the B-Royals

RC: What was your first spring training like?

HR: It was pretty fun. It was really busy, and we never got a day off. I had an opportunity to go work out with some of the big leaguers, so that kind of put things in perspective – this is what it's like for a daily routine. That helped me get some positive outlook on the season, and I learned what it takes to get ready for the season. Being out on the field with them, and seeing them being confident with their approach and their mental aspect of the game, it really helped. It was a lot of fun.

RC: What types of things were you working on in extended spring training?

HR: In extended spring training, I wasn't worrying so much about what the outcomes were, but I was working on the fundamentals. I had a lot of strikeouts – I led the league in strikeouts last year – so one of the big things they said to me was that you can't hit the ball if you don't swing the bat. So, being more aggressive at the plate, and being more aggressive in the outfield, wanting to be out there and wanting to be a playmaker. So that was a big help for me.

Richardson credits more confidence and aggressiveness for his improvement this year

RC: How would you describe your approach at the plate?

HR: I've settled into the leadoff spot. I'd never hit leadoff before until that first year in pro ball. Being patiently aggressive is one of the phrases they use with me. The approach at the plate is to see that fastball, and when you see it, jump on it.

RC: How are your defense and base running progressing?

HR: I feel like I've been a lot more aggressive on the bases. I want to get out there and steal a lot of bags this year. Defensively, like I was saying earlier, being out there and wanting to be a playmaker, wanting to be the guy to make the final out of the inning, wanting to get after it. Your pitcher's out there busting his tail, so I want to do the same thing for him. I'm really excited about playing defense this year so far, and making a bunch of diving catches and everything. On the bases, I want to be that guy who's a playmaker, making things happen on the bases where I can get into scoring position and let the next guy drive me in.

Richardson has excellent speed on the bases

RC: The Royals have raved quite a bit about your athleticism. I understand you were quite a basketball player in high school. Do you miss playing basketball?

HR: I do miss playing basketball. That's always been a love of mine since I was a little kid, but when I got drafted, I was really excited that the Royals were able to give me an opportunity. I had some looks in basketball, but baseball was what was really going to be my future that I could build off of. So I miss it, but I'm still very happy about what I'm doing right now with baseball.

RC: Thanks for talking with me, and good luck the rest of the season.

HR: Thanks a lot.

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