FAYETTEVILLE, Ar - Junior left-handed pitcher Stephen Richards has signed a contract with the Florida Marlins ending his three-year stint with the Arkansas Razorback baseball team.
Richards inked his deal on Wednesday, July 1, in Jupiter, Fla., home of the Marlins spring training facility and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday before boarding a plane to Jamestown, N.Y., where he will join his new team, the Jamestown Jammers of the New York Penn League.
As a relief pitcher, his first outing in professional baseball has yet to be determined, but Arkansas' former closer may at least get to see a familiar face down the line as fellow junior Dallas Keuchel has also been assigned to the New York Penn League as a member of the Tri-City Valley Cats.
Richards was Arkansas' closer for two seasons and during that time compiled a 9-8 record with a 3.71 earned run average. His nine saves in 2009 rank tied for fifth in a single season and his 13 career saves are tied for fourth by a Razorback. His nine saves this season were the most by a Razorback since Devin Collis had nine in 2006 and Richards became just the second Razorback since 1997 to earn more than eight. Known for his great slider, Richards used the pitch to record 52 strikeouts in 2009 and 108 for his career and this season held opponents to a .248 batting average.
On the awards front, Richards was named All-South Region by the American Baseball Coaches Association and to the All Ping!Baseball second team.
The signing of Richards marks the fourth Razorback from the 2009 roster that has signed a professional contract. Seniors Ben Tschepikow and Scott Lyons each signed deals with the Kansas City Royals in late June and were followed closely by Keuchel who came to terms with the Houston Astros.