Richard Lovelady Sharpens His Slider
Lefthander Richard Lovelady gave up a run on May 1 while pitching for high Class A Wilmington. The next time the 22-year-old reliever allowed an earned run was on July 17 for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, a span of 19 appearances.
Lovelady has made a fast ascension in the Royals system after being selected in the 10th round in 2016 out of Kennesaw State.
"Our scouts did a tremendous job to find him,” farm director Ronnie Richardson said. Lovelady, who stands 6 feet and weighs 175 pounds, has been compared with Matt Strahm, whom the Royals traded to the Padres in July.
"There are some similarities there,” Richardson said. "Matthew is a taller guy (he's 6-foot-3). Lovelady is a little bit leaner, but overall (they have) similar type stuff.”
While Strahm worked as a starter in the minors, Lovelady is strictly a reliever, albeit one whose fastball touches 98 mph and sits 94-95.
"He throws hard with a lot of deception to his delivery,” assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said.
Picollo said Lovelady could throw his fastball by most Class A hitters, but he quickly learned he needs another pitch. His ERA climbed from 1.08 in 21 Carolina League appearances to 2.37 in 19 Texas League appearances.
"We’re focusing on his slider,” Picollo said. "At Double-A, Triple-A, the Majors, he’ll need a breaking ball. A changeup is down the road. His slider is his secondary pitch and we’re working on developing that. He’s got to develop that.”
Through 40 games this season, Lovelady recorded a 1.70 ERA with nine saves. He struck out 10.5 and walked 2.4 per nine innings. He produced similar results at two Rookie-level stops in 2016.
"He came to spring training and he started doing things we hadn’t seen him do,” Picollo said. "The hitters had no chance against him.”
The Royals opted to challenge Lovelady by sending him to high Class A, and he dominated. "Now he’s in Double-A,” Richardson said.
Richard Lovelady Keeps Things Funky
The lefty reliever took criticism to heart and created his unusual delivery, complete with low three-quarters arm slot.
"His fastball and slider are above-average. He competes. He challenges hitters and is very aggressive in the strike zone.”