Jamie Richmond gets chance with Royals
* RHP Jamie Richmond (Mississauga, Ont.), originally drafted from the Mississauga Majors where he played for coach Ron Szczepanowski has an invite to Surprize, Az. and the Kansas City Royals camp. ….
By April Whitzman
All Jamie Richmond wanted was another chance.
And the Kansas City Royals will give him one.
“To say I was excited is an understatement,” said Richmond, upon hearing of his camp invite by the Royals. “After recovering from my injury and getting back to game form I was not given the opportunity to show what I could do. I have that chance now and I’m going to make the very best of this opportunity.”
Richmond was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 31st round of the 2004 draft and spent three seasons with the Braves organization and two years with the Oakland Athletics organization before he injured his elbow during the 2009 season.
Despite tough circumstances during the past few years, Richmond wasn’t able to give up on his baseball aspirations.
“I don’t know if I was ever ready to let go of the dream but I did have some adversity to overcome,” the 25-year old said. “My second year sitting out, I was ready and able to play but Oakland did not bring me back. If they had a local scout, he didn’t contact me.
“I was training every day to be ready but that call never came. It was very hard to stay focused.”
Richmond did stay focused and in 2012 played with two Canadian independent teams – the London Rippers of the Frontier League and the Quebec Capitals of the Can Am League. Playing on both of the teams, the Toronto-native said was a positive learning experience.
“The leagues were well organized,” he began. “The Frontier League is made up of mostly younger college players and was a great place for me to get back to facing hitters and competing again after a long rehab process. However, unfortunately, without fan support in London the team was forced to shut down.
“The Can-Am league was also a great place to play. It was made up of more experienced older hitters that made it challenging at times. We had an established team and I was fortunate enough to be picked up by a great organization that had incredible fans. The stadium was full for every game and we won the Championship.”
Having played in two leagues across the country, Richmond also spoke highly of the progress of baseball in Canada.
“Canada is producing more competitive players every year, training facilities like the Baseball Zone focus on player development and skills and it shows in their respective teams,” said the Mississauga Majors grad. “The results that our National teams are achieving shows how serious baseball is in Canada.
“Even with the number of Canadian players that leave home for their education in the U.S, they all received their skill and love of the game through Canadian programs.”
As Richmond highlighted, Canada’s strong talent is being fully witnessed on the Canadian National Team, a time he admitted was life changing and unbelievable.
“There aren’t many words to describe the honour you feel when getting the opportunity to play for your country,” Richmond said. “Being fortunate enough to wear ‘Canada’ across your chest is something I am sure every Canadian hopes to do. Playing for Team Canada has given me the opportunity to show myself in International competition and see many places of the world I don’t know I’d ever get a chance to see.
“Mr. Greg Hamilton gave me an opportunity to play and be seen. I have met some incredible coaches and players whose love of the game can’t help but motivate your best performance.”
Aside from the players and coaches from Team Canada, Richmond was also quick to thank two special people in his life – Lonnie Goldberg – the director of scouting for the Royals and Steve (Whitey) Breitner, manager of the Etobicoke Rangers of the COBA Major league.
“There is no doubt that knowing Mr. Goldberg helped me this chance in 2013,” he said. “Without him I would not have had the opportunity to show what I could do for the Kansas City Royals personnel. He was always honest with me and had faith in me. He was willing to give me a chance. I don’t want to let him down.”
“Mr. Breitner has been a mentor to me, as both a family friend and as my brother’s coach. He was always there with positive reinforcement, advice and ideas. He allowed me to workout with his Etobicoke Rangers whenever I needed on field work and face live batters to test my skills.
“He helped to keep me in the eyes of scouts and never be forgotten. He believes in me and wants me to succeed. His positive attitude has always helped me focus on what has to be done.”
Breitner further reinforced how much he not only wants the young right-hander to succeed, but also how much he knows he can find success.
“I was able to provide Jamie an opportunity to work out with my team, the Etobicoke Rangers, after his surgery and face live hitters, something Jamie had not been able to do,” Breitner said. “He went through all of his preparation, running, stretching and throwing like he was on a mission.
“His work ethic and determination is the main reason Jamie has climbed all of the way back to where he is now. From the time of his surgery he was bound and determined to get another shot. Jamie never complained once about his injury or his situation; he kept fighting!”
Breitner added he believes Richmond’s attitude is definitely one of his strong traits, saying “he never complains, has never given up and he does all of the things that are necessary to regain his old form and make himself better!”
“I said from the time he was first signed by Atlanta that this kid has the tools and makeup of getting to the show!,” Breitner said. “He needed an opportunity after Oakland and his injury! It appears he is now getting that chance!”
Despite having a positive attitude and displaying perseverance and determination, Richmond himself believes his best trait is his competitiveness. “I play to win,” he said. “I challenge hitters, and I do not like to give up walks.
“My greatest strength off the mound would probably have to be my hard work and dedication to getting myself better. Making sure I’m physically and mentally prepared for a long season ahead.”
Richmond states the is now fully ready for the long season ahead of him in 2013 and that he is looking forward to fulfilling his dreams in baseball.
“My ultimate goal for the 2013 season has to be playing for the Kansas City Royals at whatever level they see fit,” Richmond said. “To do my job and excel and be one of the best pitchers on the team and lay the groundwork for my future career in baseball.”
If Richmond wasn’t pursuing baseball, what would he doing?
“I’m not exactly sure what I’d be pursuing at the moment,” Richmond said. “All I have known and trained for the past nine years is for a career in baseball. I will have to cross that bridge if/when I get to it.”
Right now the next bridge leads to Surprise, Az.