Buttering Up Biscuits’ Pitcher Romero
Over the past five seasons, the Tampa Bay Rays have averaged 92 wins a season. While some superstitious people attribute this streak of excellence to something as silly as dropping the “Devil” from the Rays name, the cost-efficient ballclub has been able to continually contend because of the organization’s ability to find and develop young pitching and turn them into Major League studs. One of the prospects which they hope develops into another golden arm is left handed pitcher Enny Romero, currently a member for the Montgomery Biscuits, the Southern League affiliate of the Rays.
Enny Romero is no stranger to the national prospect scene. The 6’3’’ lefty has participated in the past two MLB Futures Games, showcasing two of his three pitch arsenal, including a mid 90s fastball and a low 80s tight curve. The Futures Game offers a brief glimpse at prospects; little more than an impression. But for Romero, his 2013 appearance was more telling than most. In an inning of work, Romero allowed two hits, one run and struck out two, touching 97 with his fastball. Both hits were scorched line drives by left handed hitters and reinforced a pattern that was observed during a June start against the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Southern League affiliate of the Dodgers. Romero cannot consistently get left handed hitters out.
Most Southern League pitchers possessing two Major League caliber pitches can dominate hitters batting from the arm side. Romero is the polar opposite. Against the Lookouts on June 26th, Romero allowed six hits, four coming off the bats of left handed hitters. Romero showed a reluctance to throw his fastball inside to left handers, just like he did during the Futures Game. Romero’s fastball would start out on the outer half of the zone and run into the wheelhouse of lefties. Whether it is Joc Pederson, Christian Yelich or Bobby Coyle, left handed hitters will make you pay if you’re placing balls on tees in their wheelhouse.
Early in his start against Chattanooga, Romero sat in the 91-93 mph range with his fastball, commanding the pitch to both sides of the plate. His fastball has natural arm side run to go with a late downward drop. In the third inning, after throwing a 92 MPH fastball behind a hitter and being warned by the home plate umpire, Romero reeled back and threw a 99 MPH fastball, which left the ten or so scouts behind home plate abuzz. On one or two of the scout’s radar guns, triple digits appeared on the screen. For the next four innings, Romero sat between 94-97. He was still getting natural arm side run on the 94-95 MPH fastballs but he lost the downward drop he was getting the first two innings. Like most fastballs, as he threw hit harder, the pitch flattened out a bit.
Romero’s curveball is clearly his best pitch. We had some discussion behind the scenes about whether this pitch was truly a curve or slider. Since a teammate referred to the pitch as a curveball and I’m of the opinion that it is a curveball, we’re calling it a curveball until proven otherwise. A hard offering that sits at 80-82, Romero has a good feel and excellent command of the pitch, showing the ability to throw it for a strike or to make a hitter chase out of the zone. His ability to command this pitch at the next level will go a long way to sustaining long term success. This is his out pitch.
There isn’t much to say about Romero’s changeup. It’s a rough looking pitch. He slows down his motion to throw it and he has trouble finding a consistent release point, releasing it too early as his arm follows through the motion. The offering is just flat.
Enny Romero will eventually enter the big leagues as a two pitch starter. His Fastball/Curveball arsenal will be plenty to navigate the league a few times through. However, the development of a third pitch would do wonders for his long term place as a starter. He will not reach full potential without a third pitch. The Rays will continue to show patience in his development and hope that left handed pitcher Enny Romero is next in a long line of studs to come out of their vaulted farm system and produce at the major league level.