Conclusion of a two-part story
Simeon Woods Richardson is the St. Paul Saints’ only Black pitcher, and one of two in the Minnesota Twins organization. He joined the Triple-A club in August.
Woods Richardson, who just turned 22 years old on Sept. 27, is the Twins’ sixth-best prospect. He came to the Twins as part of a 2021 trade with Toronto for Jose Berrios. Originally drafted out of high school in Texas by the New York Mets in the second round of the 2018 draft, he made six professional appearances before being traded to Toronto in 2019.
From then on, the 6-3 right-hander has bounced from Low-A to High-A to Double-A, where Woods Richardson began this season. He also pitched for the U.S. national team in the 2020 Summer Olympics and won a silver medal.
“I’ve been blessed,” Woods Richardson told the MSR while sitting in the Saints dugout before a recent workout. “I’ve been able to play on three different ball clubs. Everybody’s main goal is getting to the big leagues, but I think I’m pretty good on pace for being a 21-year-old and in AAA. I can’t complain.”
Woods Richardson is keenly aware of the dearth of Black pitchers in all levels of baseball, especially the pros. “There’s not a lot of us out there on the mound,” he admitted.
“I was actually a two-way athlete,” he recalled. “I played third base, I played shortstop, and I also pitched growing up. [As a pitcher] you’re in command. The game doesn’t start without you. I got on the mound and there was no better feeling. I had no better excitement than starting on the mound.”
Before he got drafted out of high school, Woods Richardson committed to attend the University of Texas to play college baseball. No regrets, however, he points out. “I can’t complain at all,” said the pitcher.
Since joining the Saints, Woods Richardson has been terrific on the mound, especially against left-handed hitters. But his hitting teammates haven’t produced much run support on his behalf.
“I’m blessed to be here. I love everybody. I love the coaching staff,” he stressed.
Since settling on pitching, Woods Richardson has been a starting pitcher, as he puts it, “ever since I picked up a baseball.” But if it means going to the bullpen in order to reach the majors, he’s willing to do it.
He also knows that to make it and stick in the majors, Woods Richardson must develop and master a second pitch. Since coming to St. Paul, he has been talking and working with Twins starter and longtime veteran Chris Archer—one Black pitcher to another.
“It’s always great to have one of those guys to just pick his brain a little bit, to talk mental cues, to talk thought processes,” said Woods Richardson. “We’ve been working on my slider recently. It’s also great that he’s one phone call, one text away just to pick his brain. I think that’s a huge help.”
Soon, baseball season for both the Saints and the Twins will end as both teams won’t make the postseason. Woods Richardson told us that after a little break “to get the arm rests,” he will begin his off-season work.
“I think everybody needs a little bit of rest because we go through 100 and some games and you’re doing it every day,” he said. “I’d say I take about a month, two-month break before I start picking it back up again for the next season.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.