Biscuits' Rickard walks into record book

Rays prospect doesn't swing bat in six plate appearances, scores twice

(Cliff Welch/MiLB.com)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | July 8, 2015 2:16 AM

When Joey Rickard left the plate after his first time up on Tuesday night, "Walk it Out" blared on the sound system at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium. And after the second, and again after the third.

At that point, Biloxi first baseman Taylor Green leaned over and said, "That's three walks."

"He was asking me if I had swung the bat yet and I said no," Rickard recalled. "He says, 'That's unbelievable.'"

The Rays outfield prospect continued to keep his bat upright as he drew a Southern League-record six walks in the Biscuits' 10-7 win over Biloxi.

"I'm usually the guy that doesn't walk a whole lot," Rickard said. "Tonight, the game just called for me to take a pitch and that just led into me taking another one and I just kept getting ahead and shrunk the zone and the balls kept coming and I just kept laying off of them."

Rickard took seven called strikes without swinging the bat in six plate appearances. The 24-year-old hadn't walked in his previous three games but drew entertaining attention from teammates past and present.

"The joke going around was, 'You didn't have to bring a bat today,' [and] 'You didn't have to take BP.' Just little stuff like that that definitely makes it more fun," he said. "I definitely heard it from them and [Rays No. 2 prospect] Daniel Robertson, he had some fun with it over Twitter."

Rickard's record-breaking sixth free pass came in a situation in which a walk was an attractive option: with the bases loaded and two outs. With Montgomery ahead, 9-7, in the bottom of the eighth, the University of Arizona product worked his second six-pitch count and picked up his first RBI of the night.

"The walk was really in the back of my mind, especially with the bases loaded," he said. "Just the way I was pitched, it started off 3-0, so I was automatically taking.

"The stars just lined up tonight. I didn't change any sort of approach. It will never happen again, for sure, and I kind of just got lucky tonight. It was late in the game by then, so odds were that was my last at-bat. I was just happy and very excited. I heard an extra-loud cheer from the dugout because they all knew what was happening. Playing a tight ballgame, so at the time, it was a big at-bat. I was definitely proud and exciting."

The Biscuits' leadoff hitter also tied a career high with three stolen bases and scored twice. 

"Just given what the game was giving me in the situation, in certain times, you be more selective and other times you be more aggressive," he said. "As far as baserunning goes, tonight it called for some aggressive plays and I just tried to take advantage of them."

Rickard eclipsed the league record set most recently by Cubs prospect Pin-Chieh Chen, who walked five times for Tennessee in a 13-inning game on May 4.

"I'm sure there's a lot more records that I'd rather have, but I'll take it," Rickard said with a laugh. "You don't use the word lucky, but there's really no other term for [being] successful without swinging, and I was just the guy at the plate tonight. It really could've been anybody in that spot."

Biscuits starter and Rays No. 19 prospect Ryne Stanek (4-2) got the win, despite allowing five runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three in five innings. Brad Schreiber closed it out with a scoreless ninth to earn the save in his Double-A debut.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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