Richardson claims States Play MVP honors with thunderous homer

September 25th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Samuel Richardson dug in for batting practice Friday afternoon, a member of the States Play Invitational event staff approached and asked if he was the player who had switched clubs. When the 17-year-old University of Missouri commit replied in the affirmative, he was asked, “Going to go deep and win the game for the West, huh?”

It may have taken two days to materialize, but the question became a prophecy.

Richardson, a 6-foot-1,190-pound attendee at Lewisburg HS in Olive Branch, Miss., was named the MLB Develops MVP presented by Chevrolet. The lone player to homer over the three games, Richardson walloped a two-run shot more than 420 feet to right-center field in the third inning to put the West ahead Sunday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. They held on for a 5-1 victory.

Richardson’s roundtripper went out with such force that East players interjected during his postgame interview: “That was a bomb.”

“I knew I had my timing down; I got it down on deck,” Richardson said. ”I just knew that if he threw me a pitch in the zone, I couldn’t miss it.

“And I didn’t miss it.”

Explosive pitching talent was on display across the three contests, which was hosted by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball. Players got to compete at the Spring Training home of the D-backs and Rockies twice, along with a contest held at Chase Field, Arizona’s regular-season home. That whirlwind was going through Richardson’s head when he saw the ball land on the berm in right-center field Sunday morning.

“First of all, I was thanking God,” Richardson said. “And then I was like, ‘Man, I just hit a home run in a Major League [Spring Training] park.’ Just a lot of excitement.”

The awe didn’t end there. Along with his MVP trophy, one of the top players in the Class of 2024 was gifted tickets to Game 2 of the 2022 World Series. When asked whether the homer or the reward was sweeter, he quickly chose the Fall Classic.

Here were some other standout performances from Game 3:

Ty Southisene, SS (West): The 5-foot-9 infielder from Basic HS in Henderson, Nev., kicked off the top of the third with a single, coming around to score on Richardson’s emphatic shot. But the University of Tennessee commit wasn’t done there; he walked in the fourth and promptly stole second, before collecting his second single in the seventh. From there, he notched another steal, making him the lone player all weekend to notch multiple steals and runs scored in the same contest.

Aiden Harris, RHP (East): Six batters faced, six batters retired. Harris, a 6-foot-4 righty committed to the University of Virginia, struck out the side looking in the first. He added a fourth punchout during his second inning of work, sandwiched between two groundouts. The product of Manchester HS (Midlothian, Va.) worked in the 87-90 mph range with his heater, which accounted for three of his strikeouts.

Dalton Wentz, SS/RHP (East): The East saved some velocity for the end of the series. Wentz, a University of South Carolina commit, routinely sat at 92-94 mph over his two frames. Aside from allowing a single, he was nearly untouchable, accruing four strikeouts, three of which were looking. During Game 1 on Friday, he also drew a pair of walks at the plate.

Stunner Gonzales, RHP (West): While each player who stepped on the diamond at States Play had motivation with a plethora of scouts in attendance, those who remain without a college commitment were able to provide more tape to showcase their ability. The 6-foot-7 Gonzales was at the heart of that, retiring all six batters that he faced, two by strikeout. His fastball sat at 88-90 mph.

The book closed on the 2022 States Play Invitational with a handshake line, hugs and group photos. While the West got to carry the plaque reserved for the series’ victor, they had the East join in to celebrate all that was accomplished across three games in less than 48 hours.

The series MVP had the last word.

“Awesome event,” Richardson said. “Just getting to be around and meet new guys everyday and playing with the best of the best, it’s definitely a blessing.”