David S. Driver
"Providing my byline by your deadline"
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May 5, 2008
Newton Kansan BY DAVID DRIVER
Used with permission
BOWIE, Md. — Dustin Richardson, a 2002 Newton High graduate, fired a pitch in the third inning he thought was strike three Tuesday at Prince George’s County Stadium.
The pitch was called a ball by the home plate umpire in a Class AA minor league game, and Richardson, the starting pitcher for the Portland Sea Dogs, walked halfway to the third-base line in a game against the Bowie Baysox.
“I was frustrated. I have to have to make adjustments,” said Richardson, a promising pitcher in the Boston Red Sox farm system.
Making adjustments is what it takes to survive in professional baseball. Richardson, 24, the son of Debbie and David Richardson of Newton, has been doing just that since he was drafted in the fifth round out of Texas Tech by the Red Sox in 2006 after his senior season of college.
“You learn to take care of your body more,” Richardson said of pro ball. “You are playing every day. You learn to (be professional). I guess you could say it is a grind, but you get your work in every day.”
Richardson was 4-1 with an ERA of 3.18 in 16 games, with one start, in his pro debut with Lowell (Mass.) of the New York-Penn League in 2006. In 39 2-3 innings, he allowed just 28 hits and 13 walks with 44 strikeouts.
Last season, at the low Single A level with Greenville in the South Atlantic League, he was 5-7 with a 3.34 ERA. He was promoted to high Single A Lancaster of the California League and was 4-0 with an ERA of 2.74.
This season, he advanced to Double A Portland of the Eastern League, which is just two stops away from the Majors in Boston. Richardson noticed an immediate difference in the jump in levels.
“Hitters are a lot more patient at the plate. They are looking for their pitches a little more,” he said.
Richardson started against Bowie Tuesday and allowed four runs (all earned) in five innings. He fell to 3-2 this season as the Baysox beat Portland 4-3 in the first of the three-game series.
“He has had the ball up his last two starts,” Portland manager Arnie Beyeler said. “He has to make adjustments.”
His ERA was 3.96 with just 17 hits allowed. He had 29 strikeouts and allowed no homers.
In games through Tuesday, he was one of only five pitchers in the minors to strike out at least 10 batters in a game.
Richardson throws a four-seam and two-seam fastball, a slider and change up. His fastball reaches the low 90s.
Portland pitcher Justin Masterson recently was called up to pitch for the Red Sox in Boston before being sent back to the Sea Dogs. Masterson pitched here Wednesday against Bowie.
“It makes us realize we are not that far away. We are only a phone call away” from the majors, Richardson said.
The Portland pitching coach is Mike Cather, a former pitcher for the Atlanta Braves.
“He is a great mentor. He works a lot on the mental aspect of the game,” Richardson said. “He is real patient with us. He is always positive about things. We all respect him.”
Richardson gained some measure of fame as a Texas Tech student when he took part in a reality show involving Bobby Knight, the former head basketball coach at the school.
“It is starting to die down,” Richardson said. “I want to be known as a baseball player. It was a great experience. He is a very smart guy.”