What can Washington Nationals fans expect to see from last year’s first-round pick Seth Romero this season, and beyond?
The 25th overall pick out of the University of Houston, Romero compiled a 4.91 ERA with just 22 IP last season. He finished up at Auburn, the Nationals Short-A affiliate.
The leftie recently ranked 76th on the Baseball Prospectus top 101 prospects. This lines up with potential that once had him touted as a Top 10 pick in the draft. That part of his game has never been in question.
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Watching Romero, his pitching motion has the distinct feel of a left-handed Stephen Strasburg. A very easy delivery, that will settle in the low-mid 90s. The pitch make-up is very similar too with a devastating slider and an improving changeup. The recipe for a top half of the rotation pitcher.
However the concern has always been his off-field struggles which plagued him during his time in Houston. This included “a lack of effort regarding conditioning.” according to a Houston Chronicle article and a failed drug test where he tested positive for marijuana.
But Doug Harris told the Washington Post “We’re not scrutinizing him any differently. He’s going to be given a chance like any other player to come in here and let us know who he is”. So as long as he doesn’t give management cause for concern, he’ll be treated like all other young pitchers to come through.
So let’s look at how the Nats have managed a similar pitcher in the past.
The most recent example would be Erick Fedde.
A slightly different case as Fedde slipped in the draft due to injury, not off-field issues. The young right-hander made it to Double-A by the end of his first full professional season in 2016. Management made sure to carefully manage his innings to not overwork him. This may be a tactic used for Romero too, as a recent draftee.
Following in the footsteps of his fellow first-rounder, by getting to Harrisburg, would be a realistic goal for Romero. This route would also have him on course to make his debut for the big league club in 2019, given how the Nationals have never been scared to have pitchers speed through Triple-A Syracuse.
Drafted seven months ago, Romero is a player Nationals fans should really track the progress of this season.