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SoxProspects News

February 17, 2010 at 7:46 AM

2010 Prospect Previews: Reymond Fuentes and Dustin Richardson

This edition of the series features two players at very different stages of their professsional careers. One looking to make that push towards a major league roster spot and the other with an eye on an assignment in full-season baseball.

Reymond Fuentes

Position: Outfielder
2009 Team: Gulf Coast League Red Sox
2010 Projected Team: Lowell Spinners /Greenville Drive
Opening Day Age: 19

Strengths: Boston’s 2009 first-round draft pick, Fuentes is an exciting new addition to the Red Sox organization. Possessing what has been graded as close to 80 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, he should challenge to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, players in the system, and can make a lot of things happen with his wheels. He projects to be a good base stealer as he rises up the ranks given his speed and should put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses by taking extra bases on balls hit into the gaps and scoring on balls that few other players could. Fuentes has a quick and compact stroke that produces line drives, and he is capable of hitting the ball where it is pitched. He stays on balls well and shows the potential to develop an approach at the plate that is going to fit his skill set. Defensively, Fuentes is a true centerfielder with excellent range and the ability to stick at the position down the line. He projects as an above-average defender and could round out as an elite defender at the position as he refines his skills. Fuentes drew rave reviews in a private workout held by the Red Sox in Puerto Rico prior to being drafted, and personnel came away very impressed with him, including a personal recommendation from newly named Director of Amateur Scouting Amiel Sawdaye.

Development Needs: Like a lot of young hitters entering professional baseball, Fuentes will have to adjust to facing top competition day in and day out. His approach at the plate is in the raw stages right now, and his pitch recognition will need to come up to speed for him to have a quicker adjustment period regardless of where he is placed in his early career. Standing 6’0 and weighing 160 pounds, Fuentes has a need for a lot of physical development, as he is very slight of build right now, with minimal present power. Overall, he projects to have fringe average power potential, but it remains to be seen how he will physically develop and whether that will bump higher as he matures and grows into his frame. Fuentes’s arm is below average and was graded as low as a 35 on the 20-80 scouting scale by some scouts. Improvement in his accuracy, his release, and how he charges the ball will be important for him to prevent runners from taking advantage of what projects to be an average at best arm down the line. Fuentes is raw on the base paths and will need to put in work to how he reads pitchers, gets jumps, and the general nuances of being an effective base stealer. This is something that should develop over time as he becomes more comfortable in the professional ranks.

2010 Outlook: Spring Training is going to have a big say in where Fuentes is placed to start the 2010 seasons. If he holds his own against the competition, look for him to break camp with Greenville and start in full-season baseball when the teams head north for the year. He could also stay back in Florida to continue working on some needs and start with Lowell in June. 2010 is going to be a year to develop his approach at the plate and hone his offensive skills against professional competition. Look for Fuentes to flash the athleticism that impressed the Red Sox prior to being drafted and to make improvements with his hitting as the season goes along. A good sign of development in his approach will be to see Fuentes using the whole field and staying back on the ball. How quickly he adjusts to better off-speed pitching will be a big indicator in the type of success he has this season. 2010 is a year for Fuentes to get his feet wet and to start making developmental strides that are going to put him on the path to be on the horizon a few seasons from now. While most likely four seasons away from potentially showing up on the major league scene, 2010 should lend a glimpse at the type of player Fuentes is capable of becoming.

Dustin Richardson

Position: Relief Pitcher
2009 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox
2010 Projected Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox/Boston Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 26

Strengths: This left-handed pitcher made a successful conversion from the starting rotation to the bullpen in 2009, putting together a solid season in Double-A and earning himself a late September call-up. Richardson features an effective fastball that he hides well in his delivery. Throwing over-the-top, he gets on top of his fastball well to create some downward movement. The pitch sits in the low-90’s, touching 94 on occasion when he reaches back. His two-seam fastball has some tail away from right-handed batters along with the downward tilt. If he can get a little bit more drive out of his delivery, he may be able to grab a little bit of extra velocity, but at this stage he looks to have maxed out. Richardson likes to pitch aggressively and go right after hitters with his fastball, often challenging them with it. Given the deception in his delivery and how the ball appears to jump out of his uniform, his fastball sneaks up on hitters and gives the appearance that is faster than it actually is. He’s been effective at striking batters out. Richardson also throws a breaking ball that has been tightening into a slider after being closer to a curveball when he operated as a starting pitcher. As the season went along, he started working on throwing this pitch with a little more velocity, and it has the makings of a low-80’s slider for him. Pitching in relief seemed to work better with Richardson’s repertoire after having a tough time through the lineup the second and third time while working as a starter in 2008 with Portland, and he was much more effective with keeping the ball in the park as a result of the conversion.

Development Needs: Richardson can have bouts of wildness and at times lose focus on the mound. He improved a lot in 2009 with his focus, but he’ll need to cut down on the number of men he puts on base via the walk if he is going to be an effective reliever at the major league level. He’ll sometimes lose his release point and speed up his delivery, which leads to the loss of his fastball command and to missing high out of the zone. After improving considerably on keeping all of his pitches down and finishing better out of his delivery, Richardson cut down on the amount of solid contact and especially home runs allowed. This trend must continue for him, and he’s going to have to keep an eye on his finish so he can limit the outings where he’s missing his spots consistently with his fastball. Continued improvement in his slider will also go a long way for him establishing an out-pitch that he can bury on hitters when he is ahead in the count. Richardson has been a bit too fastball dependant as a reliever, and a different look will help him maintain his strikeout rates when he gets a chance at the major league level. He’s much more effective pitching ahead in the count and needs to keep working on hitting his spots early in the count so he doesn’t have to grab too much of the strike zone in favorable hitting counts.

2010 Outlook: Richardson will enter Spring Training with a chance to compete for a spot in the Red Sox bullpen. That challenge should be good to push his compete level in camp and get him off to a good start. It looks likely that he will start the season in Triple-A, but there is a possibility of him winning a spot on the major league roster. Richardson should continue to display the strong strikeout rates out of the bullpen at the minor league level this season, and with more development of his slider he should be able to maintain them at the major league level when given the chance, especially against left-handed batters. Cutting down on the walks is a must for him now that he is pushing up towards the major leagues, and this will be a strong tell as to how much success he is going to have. He could be used more as a lefty specialist in 2010 to see if he can carve out a niche for himself in that role. Richardson figures to find himself in Boston at some point this season with a chance to help the team, and the contributions he will make will be tied to putting the finishing touches on his arsenal.