Name: Danny Richar
Danny Richar might be the dictionary definition of 'streak hitter.'
During the 2005 season while with the Hi-A Lancaster JetHawks Richar had hitting
streaks of 10, 8, and 7 games at one time or another. He had three
different streaks of four multi-hit games, and hit over .400 the last 10 games
of the season.
He also hit .247 in May.
But for a kid who turned 22 during last season and will be entering his
fourth season in the Diamondbacks system, a non-drafted free agent with
incredible tools who had never really gotten any instruction to speak of until
he turned pro, Danny Richar is right on schedule, only now the tracks are
Like seemingly everyone else in Lancaster last season, Richar got a chance to
branch out from his natural position, shortstop. Richar played second
base, third base and center field last season, and there's no real way to know
where the Diamondbacks plan to use him now. Once again, the additions of
Justin Upton and Stephen Drew have thrown another prospect's future into flux,
but for once it might not have been the worst thing to happen, not to Danny
Batting and Power: What makes Danny Richar such an appealing
prospect is the very same thing that failed to get him noticed in the first
place. His body. At just 5'10" and 155lbs when the Diamondbacks
signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2001, he certainly didn't look like
a player who had four solid tools. Five years later he's added two inches,
and 15 pounds, to his frame, and as the body starts to fill out, the wicked bat
speed that got him what little attention he received, started translating into
After hitting a grand total of two homers in his first two season, Richar
started showing more pop in '04, where he tallied 16 doubles, four triples and
six homers between Lancaster and Double-A El Paso. Last season that
potential power became power, as he drove 20 over the fence. The
Diamondbacks knew that the body had room to grow, and they were willing to let
it happen at its own pace. His offseason workouts have focused on adding
another 10 pounds of muscle to a frame that could easily carry another 20, and
there is quiet speculation that Richar could end up being a top prospect, at
some position, by the end of 2006.
But in order to hit the ball out of the park, Richar has to learn to hit the
ball consistently. He has done an impressive job cutting down on his
strikeouts (just 64 in 454 at bats in '05, as opposed to 95 in 465 ABs in '04)
but still gets pull conscious and ends up grounding the ball to the right side
too often. It was no surprise that after Richar apparently turned the
corner in July, hitting .327 with four homers, he immediately went south in
August, hitting just .278 with eight homers. When he wants the ball to
leave the park, things don't go well.
"He was 21 and already had three solid pro seasons under his belt,"
Diamondbacks Vice President of Scouting Operation Mike Rizzo says, "and he's
inconsistent, but lots of guys are going to be at that age."
For Richar the key is finding the balance. With the added muscle the
bombs are going to come on their own, hitting the ball hard doesn't mean hitting
Baserunning and Speed: Richar can flat out fly, when he's at
full strength. A series of leg and ankle injuries, none serious, all
painful, limited his stolen base total to just nine in '05, after he swiped 24
the season before. He's aggressive to a fault on the bases, something the
Diamondbacks are hoping Brett Butler, Lancaster's new manager, can help him
address, but as far as pure speed is concerned he's among the top 20 in the
Playing under control is becoming a theme when talking about Richar, and on
the bases is as good as anywhere to start. Being a top notch base stealer
is as much a gift as it is learned, but being a great baserunner simply takes
discipline, and Richar appears to be slowly developing that.
Defense: This is where Drew/Upton might actually be doing Richar
a favor. At one point in the season he led all the minor leagues in
errors, and his 32 put him among the leaders overall at the end of the year.
Richar has a cannon for an arm, but his footwork has been a thorn in the
Diamondbacks side from day one. He tends to throw flat footed far more
often than he needs to, and is the type of player that will make a spectacular
play, and the muff the routine grounder.
Of course, at second base throwing flat footed is the norm, and the focus can
be learned. After Drew signed and claimed the shortstop job, Richar saw
extensive time at second base, and that might be his clearest shot to the
Majors. His speed led some to believe that center field might be his
eventual destination, but that may have been as much about the dearth of center
fielders in the D'Backs system as anything Richar showed, and his limited time
in the outfield didn't blow anybody away. He still profiles as a middle
infielder, and will likely start 2006 playing second.
Projection: Richar debuted in the states in 2002 with the Short
Season Yakima Bears, and earned himself a promotion to the Hi-A club that very
same year. Unfortunately his defensive woes and streaky bat have kept him
in Hi-A ever since. He got a 26 game look at Double-A in '04, but didn't
impress, and now has to contend with not just Upton and Drew, but also Emilio Bonifacio and Alberto Gonzales for time in the middle infield. Expect him
to return to Lancaster to start '06, but a solid spring could get him an opening
day spot on the Double-A Tennessee roster, playing along side Drew. Some
have said that Richar, who seemed more comfortable and poised during his time
with Drew than he ever had in the D'Backs system, could benefit as much as
anyone from watching Drew's preparation and focus on the field, and if he begins
to take some of those lessons to heart, he could have an explosive year.
ETA: But his best opportunities may have passed. When he
earned the quick promotion to Lancaster back in '02, the Diamondbacks thought
they might have their shortstop of the future. Now they know they have
their shortstop of the future, and even if they haven't figured out if his name
is Justin or Stephen, they are pretty confident it's not Danny. The move
to second base was a bright beacon of light for Richar's supporters in the
organization, and his hitting skills, which have improved every season, figure
to continue their upward swing.
It may be that Richar's best chance to break into the bigs now lies in his
value to another organization, but one thing is for sure, there will be plenty
of eyes watching if he's playing alongside Stephen Drew in Tennessee. A
strong year in '06 would set him up as the man to take over once Orlando Hudson
has moved on, but with speculation that Upton might move to second base, Richar
will have to prove he deserves the shot before the number one overall pick in
the draft. Expect to see him in a big league uniform in 2008, though it
might not be a Diamondbacks uni.
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