The Gateway Grizzlies have extended the contract of infielder Tommy Richards for the 2015 season.
Richards, 24, returns for his second year with the Grizzlies. After earning a roster spot out of Spring Training prior to last season, Richards batted .248 with three home runs and 24 RBI in 73 games.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity to compete and steadily improve as a player,” said Richards, who returned to professional baseball with Gateway last season after having Tommy John surgery in 2012. “I can improve in a lot of areas and my goal is to be prepared on a day in, day out basis,” he said.
The Bend, Ore. native is spending his offseason pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at Lindenwood University in Belleville. He’s also a graduate assistant for the university’s baseball program.
“I really like the job because it’s the same kind of responsibilities you have with playing,” Richards said. “I think it works well with my playing career because it’s still about helping the team win by whatever means necessary.”
The Baltimore Orioles drafted Richards in the 24th round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He played one season in the Orioles’ system before sitting out 2013 due to his surgery. Richards played collegiately at Washington State University.
Grizzlies’ ninth-year manager Phil Warren believes Richards could be the everyday second baseman for Gateway in 2015.
“For Tommy, it’s about his shoulder and being healthy,” Warren said. “Tommy had some big hits for us last year and is a big part of what we’re trying to do this year.”