First, I would just like to apologize for not submitting this until now. Unfortunately, until recently there really wasnít much to report, at least not much on the field to report since we did the Prospect draft last year. Plus with getting married last year and graduating, Iíve been busy as well. Richie Gardner has been one of my favorite prospects since day one. His story is fascinating. Itís truly a story of perseverance. Most of you know it, but I guess for completeness I should restate it here to the best of my abilities (Iím sure baseballmom could do better). He attended Santa Rosa Junior College. While there, according to Baseball America, he had to deal with mononucleosis and then afterward was struck in the head with a baseball in practice drills.
Following this incident, in 2003 he transferred to the University of Arizona where he was a starting pitcher with a 4.49 ERA, 7.73 K/9, and 2.39 K/BB ratio. He was drafted by the Reds that year, but did not begin playing until 2004. But, in 2004, play he did, and well. He posted a 2.50 ERA in high A Potomac with 8.34 strikeouts per 9 innings and an astounding 6.13 K/BB. He was promoted to AA Chattanooga and continued his progress with a 2.56 ERA, 7.55 K/9, and 4.55 K/BB ratio. All of this prompted the Reds to make Richie Gardner their minor league player of the year with the Chief Bender Award. In 2005, however, things stalled. He started the year in Chattanooga and struggled. Later he went on the DL with forearm tightness. In the end it turned out that he had to have surgery to repair his torn labrum. In 2006, he didnít fair much better. While recovering he spit time with Sarasota and the GCL Reds. He was shut down early."I was at practice and I got hit in the head doing a bunting drill," Gardner said. "I was in the hospital for a week. I was having trouble speaking, putting words together and mumbling. I'd had mono just before that and was just getting my strength back, but [after getting hit in the head] I wasn't able to work out for a couple months because they were afraid I might have blood clot and didn't want me to have a brain aneurysm. I'm lucky I even got to play again."
But, 2007 is a new year. He has split time mostly between Sarasota and Chattanooga, but did have one outing in AAA Louisville. According to Baseball America and Chattanooga Times - Free Press, manager Jayhawk Owens says that his fastball has been at 88-91 with good movement with his slider and changeup. This is less than his 90-94 mph fastball pre-injury.
Statistically he is having a good year.
Code:Gardner IP TBF H R ER HR SO BB HBP AAA 6.0 22 4 3 3 2 2 2 0 AA 21.0 90 20 8 5 0 24 7 0 H-A 43.7 167 29 10 8 1 25 9 0 Total 70.7 279 53 21 16 3 51 18 0He has maintained a low homerun rate and low walk rate. His strikeout rate in high A was low, but he has since doubled it with the move to AA. Furthermore he has continued to be a good groundball pitcher.Code:Gardner ERA HR/H HR/9 K/9 BB/9 K/BB FIP K/TBF BB/BF AAA 4.50 0.50 3.00 3.00 3.00 1.00 7.87 9.09 9.09 AA 2.14 0.00 0.00 10.29 3.00 3.43 1.91 26.67 7.78 H-A 1.65 0.03 0.21 5.15 1.85 2.78 2.97 14.97 5.39 Total 2.04 0.06 0.38 6.50 2.29 2.83 3.07 18.28 6.45
I will try and put updates of any articles that I read about Richie here. Hopefully they will be good ones, ones of his progress not ones of injuries. But, the pitching motion is violent and labrum surgeries are difficult to recover from. Regardless, I am pretty sure that I can say that as soon as he plays one game with the Reds, personally, I think I can say that he will be my favorite player to have put on a Reds jersey.