Offseason Prospect Overview: Paul Richan

Paul Richan (photo by Jared Ravich at MiLB.com)

Paul Richan (photo by Jared Ravich at MiLB.com)

Season Review

paulrichan

One of the premier strike-throwers in the 2018 draft, it is no surprise Paul Richan became a target of the Cubs. He becomes the latest in a line of polished college arms drafted into the organization. Richan posted a 7.77 K/BB ratio over 89.2 innings with University of San Diego prior to the draft then followed up with a 6.2 mark in 29.2 innings as he dominated with Eugene as a professional

National publications are all over the map with Richan. Baseball America rates him 7th in the system, while Fangraphs has him outside the top 30. With his ability to miss bats and limit walks, along with potential for 4 avg or better pitches in a starter's frame, I lean closer to BA's assessment but admit my looks have been limited and I say it without much conviction at this point. I will say he looked better than Keegan Thompson did the year before, who was the most polished arm from the 2017 class, and started his first full season in A+ and finished in AA. A similar path for Richan seems reasonable.

Positives

Richan overpowered hitters in his stint with Eugene. That is not hyperbole either. I don't believe he threw a pitch above 94 MPH but consistently blew his fastball by hitters. I haven't quite identified what makes the pitch so effective. It does appear he hides the ball well behind his body while going through his delivery and then looks like he extends his upper body out over his landing leg to gain good extension. Richan undoubtedly generates a high spin rate as well which contributes to it's late life.

His curve and changeup didn't stand out to me, but his slider did flash. I want to wait until I get a larger sample size with a better angle on the video, but he it could be a plus pitch as he managed to get several hitters to flail helplessly as the pitch darted out of zone. All three of his offspeed offerings look like they tunnel well off his fastball and hitters appeared to having a difficult time identifying any of them.

What may end up setting Richan apart from some of the Cubs other recent right-handed college arms is Richan seems to have advanced command already. He controlled the glove side of the plate while with Eugene. He was less precise to his arm side, but still kept the ball from bleeding out over the heart of the plate in most instances. His impressive K/BB ratios are a testament to his ability to work the edges of the zone.

Negatives

Does he have a plus pitch? I'm not sure. His fastball seems to play up, but given it tops out around 94 he'll need to generate plenty of movement for it to achieve the same level of success against MLB hitters. His slider looked pretty good, but I haven't seen enough to say for certain. Maybe he makes progress with his changeup.

The biggest question is whether he has the stamina to hold up as a starter. Richan began his collegiate career as a reliever and only has one season of starting experience. Reports are he lost some velocity as the college season progressed. Given it was a new role it is reasonable to assume he was still adjusting to the workload, but Richan will need to prove he can hold up as he progresses up the ladder.

Summation

It is still a little early for me to make any sweeping proclamations regarding Richan, but he outshone any of the arms from the 2017 draft class in his time with Eugene. His offspeed stuff doesn't compare to Alex Lange or Brendon Little but shows better command and the same type of pitchability as Keegan Thompson.

2019 Outlook

Richan certainly strikes me as a guy that could open in Myrtle Beach just as Lange and Thompson did last season. Unfortunately, there is more competition for those rotation slots this year as a couple of the Pelicans incumbents could be forced to remain there while they wait for room in Tennessee and there are a couple of arms from South Bend that are also in line for a promotion. So, Richan could start the year in South Bend, but I don't expect him to stay there long. Based on what I saw last year, Myrtle Beach is the proper challenge for him.

Comments

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  • He sounds boring but maybe that is good.

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    Has anyone seen Edward's new delivery? It's almost identical to Kershaw's, except Edwards taps his foot down before he throws. It looks like a balk to me.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Edwards says he watched film of Jansen and is trying to copy his motion. The pause in the windup, taps and other stutter-starts seem awfully close to balks to me, too, but they aren't usually called. Cueto's windup has been a puzzle to me as well - how can a guy come to a complete stop in the middle of his windup and still throw a mid-90's fastball?

  • Interesting problem - the Cubs seem to be "stacking" pitchers at each level, most of whom are talented with high potential but not there yet. At what point does it become a development issue when there isn't a spot to promote pitchers to? The alternative, of course, is to trade some of them, but accurately predicting which to keep and which to trade is a crapshoot. Are the Cubs hurting themselves with too MANY pitching prospects?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I did expect that the Cubs were going to trade a couple this offseason. But the Cubs didn't really make any trades to alter the big league roster this year. I will continue to expect a few arms to move at the deadline as the team fortifies for the stretch run.

    There really isn't an issue from a team perspective of having too many arms to develop. It is more from the prospect's perspective. If a guy that might benefit from getting starts is forced to the pen, it could keep them from developing a pitch, etc.

    We aren't there yet with the Cubs. They still have room for everyone if you figure on some injuries this spring.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I understand your comment. But the first thing I thought of was the “too many shortstops” concerns a few years back. Talent has away of sorting itself out.

  • Michael's comment, "If a guy that might benefit from getting starts is forced to the pen, it could keep them from developing a pitch, etc." pretty much sums up any concern I might have. But you're right, that "too many shortstops" problem disappeared rather quickly!

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    It sure did. But it wasn’t because of a lack of talent. Two are on the roster and 2 others were traded for needs.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    You believe every single pitching prospect will make it?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    TINSTAAPP

  • There was an interesting Jason McLeod interview on 670 The Score last week. He said he believes the Cubs were too conservative in drafting pitchers. He felt they didn’t take enough chances on guys who are great athletes or had great stuff, but needed some development. Going forward, they might draft more risky players, but also pitchers with more upside.

  • TINSNAPP!

  • What does TINSNAPP mean?

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    There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect (baseball prospectus)
    I also like TINSTAAFL----there is no such thing as a free lunch.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Oh ok, thanks. No wonder google could not find TINSNAPP, must have been a typo.

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    Tom Ricketts is speaking now on TV.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I heard him on radio. Not a lot baseball related or anything we didn’t really know.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Saying the reason the cubs didn’t spend more money this winter because “we don’t have anymore money.” Don’t know how he can say that with a straight face. Ricketts are the poorest billionaires I know.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Lol I'm just gonna be honest when I say that the idea the Ricketts don't have money is a clumsy excuse because we certainly know that isn't true. These people are multi billionaires and they have $60 million coming off the books next year, over $100 million over the next 2 years and a huge lucrative tv deal that's coming next season. In addition this family also has owned the team for a cubs group that is the best and most popular team in this franchises history arguably. To say they don't have money is insulting to my intelligence and I'll have a level of disappointment in the Ricketts for this offseason if this holds true.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Arbitration will add money, though. And whatever existing contracts are more in 2020 than they were/will be in 2019. There’s some theories we can throw out there as to why they didn’t spend more this offseason... but saying what he did isn’t really what some of us wanted to hear.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    And don't get me wrong milk stout I understand the payroll isn't low and I get that the Ricketts have a right to operate like a responsible business. But I'm still somewhat disappointed even though I acknowledge that I take the Ricketts over the Tribune owning the team any day of the week. The luxury tax implications aren't too severe to the team as long as they aren't way above the tax threshold for multiple seasons in a row and like I said they have a ton of money coming off the books soon. It sounds like the Ricketts are making a business decision to not increase payroll and it's just a little frustrating as a fan because I do believe the team has a sense of urgency with a strong but old stable of starting pitchers. It's just hard for me not to feel that the Ricketts are content with how things are going with the team doing well and they aren't doing what's necessary to bring another WS home. At least like you said there are benefits to 2020-21 by not spending now but still this was a pretty good free agent class and the teams sat idly by.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    As far as the CBT it looks like the Cubs are over $40M more than last year. That's not counting any more additions they may make to improve the team before the season starts and at the trade dead line.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    He definitely didn't say it in the right way. But he isn't wrong. The Cubs still have one of the highest payrolls in baseball, I believe it is 3rd highest right now. As he said, they also have quite a few players that they will want to extend & spend money on in the future (Bryant, Baez, Contreras, Schwarber, Happ, Almora). Adding a 10 year, $300+ million dollar contract for a right fielder, when you already have over $100 million tied up in one now, just doesn't make any sense. Or adding $275+ million for another SS when you have Baez & maybe Russell also doesn't make much sense. So....he could have said it better, but he is right

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    I certainly understand the frustration over how the money was spent, especially given the first year return for last year's FA signings. That said, the money IS spent. Signing Harper now would lock the budget tight for the next couple of years, leading to wailing and gnashing of teeth when the Cubs can't sign the NEXT FA, who might be someone we need worse. I don't like it, but it is what it is. When does baseball start?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I agree Cliff. As much as we might want, They just can’t keep throwing money at every problem. So maybe Theo’s picking & choosing which off season & players he wants to spend Rickett’s money on.

    That said, Ricketts came off strange with’ “the money isn’t there” quote.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I would have liked to have someone follow up with a question like “if you say money is not there, then how do you apply the $50 million each team received from Fox for the tv baseball contract as well as the $27 million from the summer concerts at Wrigley?”

    It’s convenient to say we have a top payroll today when he put a lousy product on the field well below revenue streams after buying the team.

    For the first time, I am very disappointed in the Ricketts ownership. I was hoping for a Yankee or Red Sox mentality. “Act Our Size” should be the slogan on t shirts. Not “Let’s hang in there with STL and MIL”

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Yeah... ha ha!, not sure he really thought that answer through.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Idk, I am always amazed how some people think it's their business to tell others how to spend their money. Mostly, those fans want Harper. One can make a pretty good argument tho, that he might not be all that good of a fit here. Apparently many Nationals don't want him back. He has never hurt the Cubs much in head to head competition.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I know there are reasonable arguments for paying Harper, but some of the fans come off sounding like my immature cousin Kenny shouting at his mom in the K-Mart, "You can TOO afford it!!!"

  • And on completely different note, the silly pecota prediction machine has now adjusted the Cubs win total again... they’re now predicting the Cubs only win 79 games as of today. Ha ha ha!!!

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    What are they smoking at PECOTA? Kris Bryant and Yu Darvish healthy, Cole Hamels for a full year and they are predicted to win 16 fewer games? I hope Joe turns it into bulletin board material...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Some good stuff apparently... maybe they’ll pass it? They have it up on their schedule board at spring training for all to see.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Judging by their predictions, I'm not sure there's any left to pass!

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Maybe bills is working for baseball prospectus as a species analyst now.

  • Yay kindle autocorrecting bolla to bills

  • Lol, pecota is more spot on than cubbie homers would like to admit

  • In reply to bolla:

    So do you agree the Cubs are going to come in last place and win only 79 games?

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    This is what happens when the minor leagues don't provide the pitchers and we're forced to go out and spend for them. Chatwood, Darvish and Hamels for example. If we had a #2 or 3 in the system we wouldn't have signed Chatwood or maybe needed Hamels. When Theo came here he said he wanted a farm system to provide the club with players and not sign players past their prime. Unfortunately that's what we've done (maybe.) I completely understand Tom wanting to view the club over a number of years, not just year to year as the Tribune did, but how many times do 2 26 yr old possible super stars show up as FA? There are times to spend and this is one of those times.
    The argument against that is that both Harper and Machado have only had 1 100 RBI season each. Rizzo has had 4. Do we want to spend at least $30M AAV on those players when we could have more productive players for half the cost at least. It's not a black and white issue.

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    I've listened to denizens complain about our pitching woes and suggested we should be taking pitchers with big arms in the draft(at least the the last two years) we always seem to take pitchers who throw 90-92 college pitchers, or take a shot at whats left later in the draft of HS arms, maybe getting 1 or 2 per draft.
    McCloud come out recently and said what I've been harping on for years, we should be taking them higher in the draft and be taking more.
    If I could give the cubs a piece of free advice, I would be loading up on hard throwers in the draft and taking position players in the IFA class.

  • In reply to tater:

    I think there’s a balance needed. They can’t every draft do the same thing...go after the hardest throwing arms 1st... They’ll miss some good players. They’ve also got some good pitching prospects from the IFA market. Alzolay, Marquez, ODLC, Gallardo, Moreno... But yeah, if they see a guy at #27 who won’t fall to their 2nd round pick, ok. But they gotta be sure they’re not missing out on a Mike Trout etc... Ha Ha!

    That all said, I actually like what they’ve done the last few drafts.

  • I really don't understand all of the scrutiny and jokes toward the owners saying they don't have more money to spend. I honestly don't understand this popularity in our society of criticizing people with money, how to spend their money. The cubs have one of the bigger payrolls, let's move on.

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    In reply to DarBar15:

    I always say that, from the Ricketts perspective, the goal of the Chicago Cubs is to make them an insane amount of money. First and foremost. Full stop.

    With that in mind they can set the payroll at whatever they'd like. I have been saying for a while that the Cubs were spending TOO MUCH for what they were getting.

    To me I am not going to put too much weight on last season. Last year almost everyone under-performed (two obvious exceptions were Baez and Hamels) at the same time...and still won 95 games. Regression to the mean says that most of the rest of the players will be as good, or better, this year, IMO. For instance I believe Bryant and Contreras will likely improve this year. If Darvish and Morrow are even a little bit healthy he is likely to be better. It would be difficult for Chatwood to be worse.

    Personally, I think, as currently constructed, the Cubs win 93-97 games. I also believe that the likelihood that they go OVER that is greater than the likelihood that they go UNDER it.

    The Brewers went on a heck of a tear last September. Without that I think that the Cubs play in their 4th straight NLCS.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Hear! Hear! Several good points.

  • Baez said his goal is to draw more walks!!! Yesssssss

    unprompted too

  • In reply to bolla:

    He's just trying to get his OBP and OPS into Kris Bryant territory...

  • In reply to bolla:

    Since his last walk off was Mother’s Day 2016 maybe he should change his goals......

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    You need better reading comprehension

  • In reply to bolla:

    The only way I want him walking more is if he strikes out less. So if he cuts down his strike outs by taking ball 4 instead of flailing at a pitch on 3 & 2 counts then I’m good with it. I don’t want him walking just to up the walk count... & still strikeout 167 times.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Yes. He needs to cut down on his MLB high 44% outside the zone swing rate.

    He learns the strike zone a lot better, he wins multiple MVP’s. It’s that simple.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Yeah, if him, Bryant & Rizzo do what they do they can all 3 be in the running for MVPs yr after yr. Javie’s D would give him an extra edge.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    That's been my caveat with Baez for a while now. I think that if he increases his BB his Ks will decrease. If he stops swinging at pitches out of the zone he will BB. No pitcher wants him on the basepaths so they will start throwing him strikes. And THOSE are the pitches he massacres.

  • Machado inks deal with Padres. With him at third and Tatis at short they could be interesting. I thought Harper would end up in SD, but I think Machado makes more sense for them. Gotta imagine Harper signs with Philadelphia soon.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    The dominoes are falling...

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Kenny W sounded like he lost his dog...

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    white sox fans are a combo of disheartened and enraged right now great.I love it!!!

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I firmly believed there was no chance of Machado signing with CHW. Good for them to make an offer. Played up to their fans well.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I didn’t think he was signing there for an instant. I feel bad for their fans though, I think they had real hope.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Yes, but at least he can tell the fans how hard he tried to make it happen...

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I’m going out on a limb and say Harper signs somewhere we haven’t even discussed seriously. Maybe the Yankees. I don’t think he wants to play in Philly. I guess the other option is that they just give him 10/$375 or something and force his hand. I wouldn’t say shocked, but I’ll be mildly surprised if it’s the Phillies

  • In reply to TC154:

    A few weeks ago I read an interesting break down on which teams make the most sense to sign the big contract FA. It said it's not the teams that first come to mind, the competitive teams like the Cubs or Dodgers or Yankees. Instead, it is the up and coming teams, like the Padres, who are signing them not just for performance but for marketing and to signal that they are now competitive. Now that the Padres are out on Harper, the Phillies strike me as the most likely.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Could be, but if it’s Philly the contract will be massive. I just don’t think he wants to play there. Just a gut feeling. The interesting thing is that if I were the Phillies I’d take the Harper money and sign Kuechel and Kimbrel. They’d be the NL favorite from jump.

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    In reply to TC154:

    A starting rotation with Arrieta, Nola and Keuchel with Kimbrel able to close out the game. That would be impressive and tough to beat in the playoffs. And likely to top Harper in "value."

    Shhhh...

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    It would be much money better well spent if they did go that way.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The cynical side of me says that Boras wants Harper to go only to a team that is a "can't-miss" for the playoffs. How can you justify an astronomical contract for a player that can't even put a team in the playoffs? That's Boras' worst-case scenario, since it will affect future contracts. If the Phillies sign Harper and don't make the playoffs next year, maybe only a minimal increase in wins to boot, kind of a walking billboard that justifies not paying so much money for one player.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I think Boras wants the most money. Show me the money is his motto. If the Miami Marlins gave him 400 million for 10 years, Harper would be playing for Miami.

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    In reply to HefCA:

    I disagree with the premise. I think that teams realize that seldom will one player make a difference. There isn't a LeBron James of baseball where simply adding him to the roster seems to guarantee you a spot in the finals.

    Besides, if they were really only worried about this season they wouldn't be talking about signing him to a 10-year deal. Signing someone like Harper you are signing him to be a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. As such signing him doesn't mean "Playoffs or Bust" in my opinion.

    Finally, Boras' goal is to get his client the best deal he possibly can. By which, I think, he means "most guaranteed money" and, preferably, with an "opt-out" if Harper thinks he has improved his market sufficiently. I don't think Boras much cares whether his client(s) get to the playoffs or not any more than anyone else does. And a player like Harper it doesn't really matter if people think it is his "fault" that the team didn't make the playoffs. This contract will likely take care of him, financially, for the rest of his life. He will possibly sign another contract for a much lower value as a 35-40 year old. But Boras' job is to get Harper the best deal he can.

    A more likely limiting factor than Boras wanting Harper to make the playoffs is Harper. I could imagine him turning down more money if he thought he was going to be part of rebuild for a couple of years.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I'll be surprised if Harper doesn't sign with the Phillies

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Reportedly 10 years,... $300MM. That's not shabby!

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Truthfully, I'm surprised he got it. San Diego has such a great farm system and can count on a few years of low-cost, controllable talent, so it might work out well for them.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    ....and probably alot more worth that than the other guy out there cuz whoever gets Harper is getting hosed. Harper’s mvp year still translated to Washington finishing 7 games out.....but....at least he does have good hair right?
    His stats just don’t justify what he wants.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Agreed here Wickdipper,... Harper has really only had one really exception year.

  • It’s kind of shocking to me that there’s only one opt out and it doesn’t come until after year 5. I’m guessing not want to give those opt outs hurt them with Harper. I’d expect at least two probably three when he finally signs.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Opt outs are only good for the player. If he performs well he leaves for more and if he plays poorly the team is stuck with a bad contract.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I agree, but if I’m one of these players I don’t sign without them though. Five years is a long time. I would expect Harper to have them after years 2,3 and 5.

  • In reply to TC154:

    “I’m sorry, I need three opt outs or you can take your $30m per year, 10 year deal.” Um, yeah...

  • In reply to TC154:

    With the new CBA coming up in just a couple of years. it makes sense for any player signing a long-term contract to have an out soon after the new CBA takes effect, just in case the market changes.

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