Competitive Drive: Wind Surge pitcher brings Olympic experience to Wichita

Competitive Drive

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – At just 20 years old, in southern New Hampshire, Simeon Woods Richardson would have a conversation that most only dream of.

“A couple of front office guys came in and sat me down and said, ‘Hey, you have an opportunity to represent the USA. Tryouts are this day and this day and if you want to go… go,'” recalled Woods Richardson.

In the middle of the minor league season, the right-handed pitcher would take a trip to Tokyo to play for Team USA in the 2020 Olympics.

“Representing your country is, as a ballplayer, something you dream about and wish about and think about and to actually do it – put on the hat, go through everything – was a dream come true,” Richardson said.

At three in the morning, before playing in the semifinal game against the Dominican Republic, he would receive a phone call that would change his career when he returned to the states.

“Normally, I would decline it and take care of it in the morning,” he said. “Something told me to answer it. When I answered it, it was the Blue Jays GM telling me I’d been traded.”

It wasn’t the first time Richardson had experienced a trade. One year after selecting him as a 17-year-old high school senior in 2018, the New York Mets sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman.

“No disrespect, but it’s business,” Richardson said regarding the early morning phone call. “I’m glad I had the feeling to roll over and go get it, but I was up till 4 o’clock in the morning trying to figure out how my life would be.”

Richardson would be assigned to play nearly 700 miles from his native Sugar Land, Texas, for the Twins’ Double-A affiliate, Wichita Wind Surge, in exchange for righty José Berríos.

“I had heard of it, never been, but I Googled – trying to find the local areas so I could just adapt to it once I got here,” Richardson said.

First, he had to help the U.S. National Team bring home Olympic hardware.

“The silver medal, oh my goodness, it’s one of those things, you put it around your neck and the closing ceremony – it was truly special to be in that moment,” he said.

A medal isn’t the only thing the Twins’ No. 4, according to MLB Pipeline, prospect took back with him. Throughout the games, Richardson was a sponge – learning from some of the sport’s most seasoned veterans.

“You have guys that have been in the show for 17 years, and they’re still doing it,” he said. “They’re still finding the love of the game, the hunger and everything like that. That’s what I’m trying to do. You always pick their brains, and you ask questions.”

Now, he’s bringing an Olympic mentality to Riverfront Stadium as the team eyes the top seed in the playoffs during its inaugural season.

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