In 2018, the Cincinnati Reds used their second-round draft pick on an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher with an incredible upside.
Fast-forward five years, and many Reds fans haven't heard the name Lyon Richardson, and those who have seem to be rather dismissive.
But still just 23 years old, Richardson still has plenty of time to get back to the type of pitcher the Reds hope he'd become when he was taken with the 47th-overall selection in 2018.
Though on the Reds 40-man roster, don't expect to see Lyon Richardson in 2023.
Lyon Richardson has been a professional baseball player for five years, but you wouldn't know it by looking at his stat sheet. Richardson has appeared in just 66 games through his first five seasons in the pros.
Richardson has seen enough adversity for a lifetime. The right-hander first dealt with elbow soreness that kept him off the field more than he would have liked in 2018. After a healthy season in 2019, the coronavirus pandemic shutdown minor league baseball in 2020.
Richardson joined a handful of other prospects at the Reds alternate site in Mason. Unfortunately, Richardson underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2021 and missed the entire 2022 season. That kind of adversity can oftentimes leave a player mentally and physically defeated, causing their career to spiral downward.
That hasn't been the case, however, for Lyon Richardson. His fastball has been back in the upper 90s and he pitched nine innings at Low-A Daytona, while allowing a single run and striking out 18 batters. Richardson since been called up to Double-A Chattanooga, where he's made seven starts so far this season.
It is crucial for the Cincinnati Reds to not rush Richardson up the ladder like we've seen with Andrew Abbott and Hunter Greene. Richardson may have been drafted in 2018, but he is still incredibly young and a work in progress.
Lyon Richardson is going to need to prove his durability and stamina for a full length season, if not two, in the minor leagues before being considered major league-ready.
The fact that the Cincinnati Reds elected to place Richardson on their 40-man roster this past offseason may lead some to believe that he would get the call up this year, but that seems unlikely.
Don't give up hope on Lyon Richardson just yet. We may not see him in the Queen City this season, but he still features an electric fastball and incredible projectability.