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Trevor Richards: Marlin on the Rise

Trevor Richards took the scenic route to professional baseball, but he’s planning to stay for awhile.

Trevor Richards didn’t arrive in the minor leagues with any pomp or circumstance. In fact, he didn’t get drafted at all out of Drury College, where he starred for four collegiate seasons with the Panthers. He posted a 19-12 record with the NCAA Division-II school, including a rock-solid final season in 2014, when he was 8-2 with 73 strikeouts and a team-best 1.71 ERA in 84 innings.

I was hoping to get drafted, but when I didn’t get the call I still knew I wanted to play some more.

Trevor was born in Aviston, Illinois, and played his high school ball at nearby Mater Dei. After going undrafted in 2014, he decided to ply his trade with the Gateway Grizzlies, a Frontier League outfit located just 40 miles from home (and a suburb of St. Louis).

The Frontier League was a good adjustment period for me. I learned how to command a fastball better than I had in college.

In two seasons with Gateway, Trevor put up a 9-9 record and a solid 3.30 ERA, with 132 strikeouts in 139 innings of work as a starter. He made 22 rotation starts in his time there, and closed his Frontier League career with a 1.20 WHIP.

Richards may pitch with a tick below average velocity, but his fastball plays up because he creates a good downhill angle to the plate with a deceptive delivery. His changeup is above average, features good velocity separation and is effective against hitters on both sides of the plate. A fringy curveball gives Richards a third pitch that club officials say has improved in his first full season.

Richards gets the most out of his three-pitch mix because he’s a consistent strike-thrower who has feel for changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance. And while his stuff may not be overpowering, it hasn’t stopped the right-hander from piling up his share of whiffs early in his pro career. He profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter or a long reliever. - MLB Pipeline

Someone in the Marlins’ minor league personnel management office was paying attention, and on July 9th, 2016, signed Trevor to a minor league deal.

After signing, Richards joined the Batavia Muckdogs and put on the #3 jersey for the short-season “A” New York-Penn league team. In his first appearance, in relief on July 12th in a 9-4 loss against the Williamsport Crosscutters, he allowed five runs in 3 23 innings, but also struck out six, and only two of the runs were earned. He only lasted three appearances with the club. His last time on the mound for them was his first professional start, a six strikeout performance. He pitched shutout one-hit ball for four innings, again versus the Crosscutters (the Muckdogs lost that one, 1-0 in 10 innings). I guess the Marlins had seen enough to test Richards at the next level.

Over the next seven weeks, Trevor, who now was wearing #29, joined the starting rotation at the single-A full season level Greensboro Grasshoppers in the South Atlantic League. In only one of his eight starts did he allow more hits than innings pitched. In total through the 2016 campaign, he limited opposing batters to a 0.998 WHIP and struck out 53 in 54 13 innings. He only walked 16 batters, but served up 11 wild pitches in that time.

Trevor got an offseason job with Miller Brewing while living in Milwaukee between 2016 and 2017, which afforded he and long-time girlfriend Aunna to explore a new city’s cuisine.

We’re both huge foodies so exploring any restaurant and new food experience is a must in a new city (sushi is our favorite). - Aunna Beckemeyer

During Trevor’s off-time, he and Aunna like to hit the beach, but having grown up in the midwest didn’t have that opportunity very often.

Growing up in the midwest we only got to enjoy the beach and palm trees for our once-a-year vacations, so that’s been nice - Aunna

They couldn’t have picked a better franchise to have signed with.

2017 would start with Trevor ensconced at the high-A level, now wearing the #0 jersey with the Florida State League’s Jupiter Hammerheads. He was even better at the higher level, blowing away 81 batters in just 70 23 innings, and holding them to a 0.934 WHIP while racking up a 7-4 record and a 2.17 ERA. In a three-game span from May 27th through June 9th, Trevor struck out 25 batters and allowed just six hits and two walks in 18 13 innings. For his efforts, he was named the FSL Pitcher of the Week on June 4th. But high-A couldn’t hold him for long.

My first AA game I threw a change up that might of bounced and a guy hit it up the middle for a line-drive single. I mean he went down and got it. That was sort of a “wow, alright, let’s go!” moment. Sometimes you tip your cap and get the next guy.

Trevor was named to the FSL’s mid-season all-star team, and was later also included on the MILB.COM Miami all-star team.

So it was that less than a year removed from independent ball that Trevor Richards moved to his fourth level of minor league ball for a start on June 23rd. On July 9th, he struck out 10 Biloxi Shuckers in seven innings of shutout three-hit ball and a career second-best GameScore of 80. In total for the Jumbo Shrimp, for whom Trevor wore jersey #23, he went 5-7 with a 3.82 ERA, a 1.128 WHIP, and 77 whiffs in 75 13 innings.

Richards was honored after the season by being named the Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

As shown in the nifty widget below, when Trevor isn’t striking guys out, he’s keeping the ball on the ground.

Richards’ career 9.5 K/9 rate and his opposing WHIP rating of 1.023 are highly correlative with major league success, but he doesn’t seem ready to rest on his laurels. Ranked 27th in the Marlins’ system, he’s projected to join the team in 2019.

I’m very excited for this spring. My short term goals are to have a healthy spring training and to prepare myself for this season. I don’t know what to expect, but I’ve been working hard this offseason and I feel I have tuned up a couple of things and am excited to get back to the baseball routine.

We’re excited to see how much Richards has to offer the Marlins at the major league level as well. Look for him at spring training this season, and we’ll keep you posted on all his development as he continues his march toward the Major Leagues.