Next in our MLB draft feature series is Indiana outfielder Grant Richardson. Richardson has only played a little over one complete season of collegiate ball with the Hoosiers, but the in-state product made an immediate impact as a freshman, and he was one of the most impressive hitters in the country in his shortened sophomore campaign.
Richardson was a high profile IU recruit from the end of his freshman year of high school, and he didn’t disappoint when he stepped on campus. Starting 42 games, and appearing in 46, Richardson knocked his way to a .264 average with nine home runs, He put the Big 10 on notice in a midseason blowout of Maryland, blasting three home runs in a 5-6 effort at the plate. Overall, Richardson boasted 11 multi-hit games, leading the Hoosiers to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Richardson was named a freshman All-American.
Although the 2020 season was cut short after 15 games, both Richardson and Indiana were on pace for great seasons, as the Hoosiers were off to a 9-6 starts with ranked road victories over #11 LSU, #30 South Alabama, and #17 East Carolina. Richardson was front and center of a prolific Indiana offense that averaged 6.3 runs per contest. Starting fourteen games, the sophomore led the squad with a .424 average, banging five home runs, three doubles, and two triples, driving in 17 runs. His five long balls led the Big 10. In the season-opening road trip to LSU, Richardson rapped out six hits in 12 at-bats, hitting a double, triple and home run over the weekend, driving in five runs and scoring four. He finished the year with 9 multi-hit games.
Grant Richardson still has four season of eligibility with the Hoosiers, so, with the shortened draft, the probability is that he returns to Indiana for at least one more season. Regardless, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Richardson’s name be called, as one team may definitely try to take a flier on the Indiana outfielder with a fourth or fifth round pick and try to lure him away from college with a signing bonus. Richardson has solid speed, running around a 6.7 60-yard dash, and his bat carries serious upside. A former pitching recruit with a 90 mph fastball, Richardson has a very solid arm. At 6’2 and 186 pounds, Richardson may also be able to fill out a little bit to add a little more power at the plate. As he continues to develop, Richardson looks like a guy that could roam center field in the MLB. Although this prediction will be for this year’s draft, don’t be surprised if Richardson returns to school, and his draft stock continues to skyrocket.
Prediction: Round 5, Pick 155, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have one of the best farm systems in the league, and so they can afford to take a flier on Richardson, hoping that he opts to head to one of the best franchises at developing players. Tampa Bay does not have a Top-100 outfield prospect right now, and while Richardson probably would slot into that list, at least not right away, the Indiana outfielder could become a long-term replacement plan for 30-year old center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.