Trevor Richards worked at a brewery and was a substitute teacher as recently as this calendar year. Now he’s a lock to make the Marlins Opening Day Rotation.
Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 169 of 286. For the first 100, click here.
Trevor Michael Richards is a 6’2″, 190 lb. right-handed pitcher from Aviston, Illinois, where he later taught as a substitute teacher. He joins pitcher Vern Holtgrave as the only natives of Aviston to pitch in the majors.
"Richards pitched four seasons for the Panthers and left Drury ranked second all-time in strikeouts with 230, and career wins with 24. His 2.96 career ERA is also the second-lowest mark in program history. – Ed Beach"
After going undrafted, Richards was still interested in playing professional ball, but nobody was knocking. He joined the Gateway Grizzlies, in the independent Frontier League. Over two seasons there, he was 9-9 with a 3.31 ERA and 132 K’s in 138 2/3 innings. On July 9th, 2016, he signed with the Miami Marlins and was assigned to the Batavia Muckdogs. You can follow him on Twitter @Trevrchrds.
Richards rose through the Miami Marlins system very quickly, advancing from the Muckdogs to the single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers after only a few weeks. He put up a 2.48 ERA and struck out 53 in as many innings in 2016, holding opponents to a 0.994 WHIP and a .194/.275/.296 slashline.
2017 would see Richards start the campaign at the high-A level with the Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League. In 11 starts, he struck out 81 in 70 2/3 innings, allowing only 12 walks. He held opponents to a 0.934 WHIP and a 2.17 ERA, going 7-4. On June 2nd, Richards struck out 11 batters and allowed only one hit in six innings as Jupiter defeated the Dunedin Blue Jays, 8-1. After moving up to the double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the Southern League, he went 5-7 with a 2.87 ERA, 77 K’s in 75 2/3 innings, and a 1.128 WHIP. On July 9th, for the Shrimp, he struck out 10 in seven shutout innings while allowing only three hits in an eventual, 1-0, 11th inning victory against the Biloxi Shuckers. Across both levels, opponents slashed .218/.267/.292 in 146 1/3 innings of work. For his efforts, he was recognized as the Miami Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Richards was ranked as Miami’s number 22 prospect entering the 2018 campaign. He didn’t start the season on the Marlins active roster, but on April 2nd, his contract was purchased from the minors. He got into the rotation for the month of April, making five starts and striking out 24 in 23 2/3 innings. On April 14th, in a 1-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Richards allowed only two hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings of work. On April 25th, Richards orchestrated MLB’s biggest upset in 11 years in an 8-6 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Richards struck out 10 in 4 2/3 scoreless innings, surrendering one hit.
Richards was sent to the minors for the month of May, making his triple-A debut with the New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League. He did what he always does, striking out 37 and walking only four in 39 1/3 innings, going 3-2 with a 2.06 ERA, and holding batters to a .215 average and a 0.89 WHIP. The demotion was merely a speed bump in Richards eventual ascencion to the majors, and he rejoined Miami for good starting in June.
Richards won his first career major league decision on June 12th in a 3-1 win against the San Francisco Giants, when he held the Bay Bombers to just two hits and one run in six innings of work. On June 23rd, he whiffed eight in six innings to defeat the Colorado Rockies, 6-2 (see below). On July 28th, Richards struck out eight over six scoreless innings as the Marlins shut down the Washington Nationals, 2-1. Going by GameScore, Richards’ best game of the season was on September 23rd, when he earned the winning decision in a 6-0 triumph over the Cincinnati Reds. He struck out nine and allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings.
Richards went 4-9 over the season with a 4.42 ERA and a 4.05 FIP that suggests he’s slightly better. He ranked third on the club with 126 1/3 inning pitched, and led the team with 130 strikeouts (along with Jose Urena). Richards had a 1.385 WHIP and was one-of-five Marlins qualifying pitchers to average a K rate of over one per inning, at 9.3K/9.
More from Marlins News
- Miami Marlins news: Another target gone
- Why didn’t the Miami Marlins sign JDM?
- Miami Marlins rejected Boston‘s trade offer
- Miami Marlins are pursuing Michael Conforto
- Miami Marlins need to spend to win
Much has been made of Richards’ 80-grade changeup, which is one of the filthiest things I’ve ever seen. He throws it about 32.1 percent of the time, according to thebaseballcube.com. The change comes with a 15-inch average horizontal break and a ridiculous 34-inch vertical break (average MLB is 31 inches) per baseballsavant.mlb.com. He’s also reliant on the fastball (54.8 percent) and a slider (13.1 percent).
There’s no reason to think that Richards will do anything other than join the Marlins rotation in 2019. Clearly, he’s one of their five best starting pitchers at the moment. Richards has the right to seek arbitration following the 2022 season, and can seek free agency in 2025.
This guy is some kind of special, and should remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future. Keep your eyes on him in the coming years.
Thanks for reading. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our daily newsletter to keep up with the Miami Marlins.