Occasionally, Simeon Woods Richardson forgets he’s a teenager.
The righthander, 18, taken 48th overall by the Mets in the 2018 Draft, is already in his second season of pro ball, pitching for the Columbia Fireflies in Class A. Woods Richardson spends his days surrounded by and competing against players older and more experienced than him, but the Texas native said he’s done his best to take it all in stride.
As far as he’s concerned, age isn’t anything but a number and, so far, Woods Richardson’s numbers have been impressive.
“It’s about having that mindset that I can compete with the best of them,” said Woods Richardson, who is No. 7 in the MLB Pipeline Mets prospects ranking. “Sometimes, I’ll say something in the locker room and people will be like ‘Dude, you’re such a kid.’ On the field, though, I act like I’m the best out there. Age doesn’t matter there.”
Woods Richardson spent time with the Gulf Coast League Mets and Kingsport Mets last season, going a combined 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA, allowing 15 hits and four walks, while striking out 26 in 17 1/3 innings. It was enough to send him to Columbia, South Carolina, this spring and while he had a rough May, allowing 35 hits and 25 earned runs in 20 2/3 innings, Woods Richardson said he feels like he’s starting to find his rhythm.
He threw 5 1/3 innings on July 17, his longest start of the season, giving up two runs on four hits with eight strikeouts and zero walks. It was the fourth time in his last 10 starts that Woods Richardson hasn’t given up a walk and seventh time he’s struck out five or more batters.
“Attacking the strike zone is something I pride myself on,” Woods Richardson said. “That’s one of the things that got me drafted. Walks for me, is like giving up a grand slam.”
Woods Richardson’s confidence on the mound hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Columbia pitching coach Josh Towers said he was immediately impressed by Woods Richardson and while the teenager’s fastball has long been his calling card, this year he’s also added a changeup to his arsenal.
“The kid’s got a gift and special stuff, but that changeup, for me, is his difference-maker,” Towers said. “He tells me, ‘I can see the pitch before I throw it and what it’s going to do.’ That’s next level stuff.”
Woods Richardson said he was initially wary of the changeup and rarely threw it in high school, but after weeks of working with Towers, it’s a pitch he’s come to depend on.
“People told me, your changeup will be your best friend and I didn’t know what that meant until I hit pro ball,” he said. “I threw the most changeups in my life last outing, like 19, and it’s cool to see that control in and out of the strike zone.”
The last few months have been a whirlwind for Woods Richardson.
They’ve also been some of the best he can remember and although he knows he’s still got plenty to prove, Woods Richardson also knows exactly what he’s working toward.
He wants to make it to the big leagues and win a championship.
“That’s the goal,” Woods Richardson said. “Being the guy, that horse in the rotation. I want a winning record, to dominate and get a ring one day.”
Jersey No. 21
18 years old, 6-foot-3, 210-pounds
Sugar Land, Texas
Kempner High School
Mets 48th overall pick (second round) in the 2018 MLB Draft
As of July 20
2-8, 4.54 ERA, 73 1/3 IP, 74 H, 37 ER, 17 BB, 90 SO