This Reds prospect faces prove-it season in 2023 after injury-plagued career

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Lyon Richardson
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Lyon Richardson / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds reassigned pitching prospect Lyon Richardson to minor-league camp on Saturday after the former second-round had spent all of spring training with the big boys.

There was never any expectation that Richardson would actually leave Goodyear, Arizona with a ticket for Cincinnati. More than anything, it was great to just see the 23-year-old back on the mound.

Richardson's career has been marred by injuries, but the Reds organization had enough faith in the right-hander to add him to the 40-man roster during the offseason. Still, Richardson faces a prove-it season in 2023 if he hopes to remain on the roster.

Reds prospect Lyon Richardson faces prove-it season in 2023.

Lyon Richardson was drafted in 2018, one round after the Cincinnati Reds selected Jonathan India with the No. 5 overall pick. Richardson was a prep pitcher with a lively arm.

Being a converted outfielder, the Reds knew that Richardson was quite athletic and had the ability to repeat his delivery. But after hitting the upper-90s on the fastball prior to the 2018 MLB Draft, Richardson's velocity dropped off quite a bit during his first assignment in pro ball. He was shutdown after 11 appearances at Greeneville.

Health was not an issue in 2019, and the right-hander put up some plausible numbers in Low-A. But, as was the case with so many prospects in 2020, the COVID-19 shutdown cratered any real opportunity for Richardson to display his talent.

Things then imploded in 2021. Richardson just didn't seem able to make that "leap" that so many scouts expected to see. Richardson then exited a game in August of that year after just one inning of work. Tests revealed that Richardson would need Tommy John surgery and the Florida native missed all of the 2022 season.

We now know that Lyon Richardson will begin his 2023 season at Double-A Chattanooga. The Cincinnati Reds will undoubtedly run him out as a starter every fifth day and see if that potential that saw him selected with the 47th-overall pick in 2018 is still in there somewhere.

The problem for Richardson is that now the Reds organization has added some significant upgrades in the pitching department. Chase Petty, Andrew Abbott, Connor Phillips, and Levi Stoudt look like the next round of potential starters emerging from the Reds minor leagues. Richardson will have to outwork those prospects in order to get back into the mix of up-and-coming starters.

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