Washington Nationals select Seth Romero in 1st round of 2017 MLB Draft

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May 3, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; A general view of a Washington Nationals bat bag, glove and baseballs before the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
May 3, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; A general view of a Washington Nationals bat bag, glove and baseballs before the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /
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With their first round pick in the MLB Draft, the Washington Nationals picked Houston left-hander Seth Romero

In the first of their two picks in the 2017 MLB draft tonight, the Washington Nationals went with a starting pitcher. With the 25th pick in the first round, they took Houston left-hander Seth Romero. It is the first time they have selected a left-hander in the first round since Ross Detwiler back in 2007.

The Romero pick is a controversial one. He has the talent to be a first round draft pick, but has major character concerns. The 21-year-old was suspended from the team twice within a 14-month span. Houston ended up losing in the regionals this year to Texas A&M. Here were some of the things Romero was suspended for while at Houston:

Before the suspensions, Romero was pitching well for the Cougars. In ten games pitched (seven starts), he was 4-5 with a 3.51 ERA and had 85 strikeouts to 20 walks in 48.2 innings. Despite only appearing in ten games, he had the most strikeouts on his team and the seventh most in the American Athletic Conference.

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In his first full season as a starter back in 2016, he went 6-4 with a 2.29 ERA in 13 starts. He struck out 113 batters over the course of 94.1 innings. According to the Houston website, he went at least seven innings in seven of his 13 starts in his sophomore season, so he ate a lot of innings for the team.

When you look at Romero’s stats from this season, one of the numbers that stands out is the amount of times he picked off opposing hitters on the bases. He had three pickoffs, which was tied for fourth in the conference. Anytime you can have a left-hander that can control the running game, it’s a great thing.

According to MLB Pipeline’s scouting report on Romero, he has a fastball that can get up to 97 miles per hour on the radar gun to go with a slider and a changeup. But, as the site put it, there has always been a concern with his conditioning:

"“Romero’s indifferent approach to conditioning led to him going undrafted out of high school and getting suspended for a couple of weeks at the start of his sophomore season. Scouts were impressed at how much better he looked physically this year, but makeup concerns have dogged him for a while.”"

Of course, it’s tough to ignore the obvious connection to this pick since Romero’s agent is Scott Boras. It does fit a need for the Nats system in terms of pitching, but you could understand why a lot of people would question this pick since he still is a first rounder despite those incidents.

This is a high risk for Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals, but it could also be a high reward if Romero doesn’t have the same off and on-field issues at the professional level. Since he threw so few innings this season, he could be a bullpen option considering he closed games in 2015 for Houston (seven saves, 1.94 ERA).

While Romero hasn’t been allowed to pitch for Houston, he has been throwing bullpen sessions leading up to the draft:

Next: Pitching biggest need heading into draft

It’s a pick that many in the industry are surprised by, but if the risk pays off, the Washington Nationals may have found themselves a good pitcher at the bottom of the first round, which was an organizational need heading into the draft.

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