The Draft Philes: The Talented Problem Child

This past weekend, Bryce Harper once again destroyed Phillies’ pitching. Pitch selection continued to be a problem on Saturday night, as it has been throughout the nine games Harper’s faced the Phillies this season. They should not be throwing him fastballs. But Harper’s dominance stems from a much deeper issue that I mentioned in my first ever article; the Phillies lack depth in left handed pitching throughout the organization. While some have pointed out to me the progression of Austin Davis, he’s only a reliever and is currently in high A. The real concern is do they have a young southpaw starter who can be a successful major leaguer, and that answer is a bit more complicated. Guys like Nick Fanti, Bailey Falter, JoJo Romero, Cole Irvin and Ranger Suarez are likely no more than back-end starters, specialists, or cup of coffee guys. It is possible to have a strong rotation without a left handed pitcher, but it certainly does not hurt to be able to alter an opposing team’s starting lineup mid-series because of match-ups.

So with that in mind, this next profile is on who many believe is the most talented southpaw in this draft, Houston’s Seth Romero. Everything about his stuff says he should be top 10. However, he is also the most troubled prospect in this draft, having just been kicked off the school’s team a month ago for violation of team and university rules. In fact if you try to look him up on the roster or his 2017 stats on the team’s website, they don’t exist (you’d have to Google him to find bi page). And prior to his time in Houston, the concern coming out of high school was his conditioning, which is why he wasn’t drafted. These concerns may have him fall out of the first round and make him an intriguing second or even third round option for the Phillies.

Seth Romero, LHP, University of Houston

6’3″, 240 lb

Bats/Throws: L/L

Previously Drafted: Never Drafted

Rankings (as of 5/15/17): MLB.com #20, Baseball America #18, Scout.com #9

Strengths

Good, repeatable delivery. Fastball ranges 92-95 mph, topping at 97. Throws from a low 3/4 slot; makes it tough for left handed hitters to pick up his fastball. Slider has strong tight spin, late break, looks like range is in the low 80s; projectable plus pitch that will generate plenty of strikeouts.

Weaknesses

Third pitch still a work in progress; changeup, which is rarely used, doesn’t have the same command as his slider or fastball, and flattens out at times. Most of the pitches he misses are pulled outside to left handed hitters and too close for comfort for right handers; results in plenty of wild pitches and hit batsmen. Conditioning has been an issue throughout most of his collegiate career. Has been suspended multiple times by the team for multiple violations; was dismissed from the program in May 2017 for fighting with a teammate.

What the Numbers Say

2015 (Freshman): 22 G (8 GS), 7-4, 1.94 ERA, 83.1 IP, 92 (23 looking)/22 K/BB, 0.996 WHIP, 1 CG, 7 SV, 61 H, 2 HR, .201 opp AVG, 13 HBP, 5 WP, 9.97 K/9, 2.38 BB/9

2016 (Sophomore): 15 G (13 GS), 6-4, 2.29 ERA, 94.1 IP, 113 (30 looking)/28 BB, 0.933 WHIP, 2 CG, 60 H, 2 HR, .186 opp AVG, 9 HBP, 4 WP, 10.78 K/9, 2.67 BB/9; was suspended in February, reinstated early March

2017 (Junior): 10 G (7 GS), 4-5, 3.51 ERA, 48.2 IP, 85/20 K/BB, 1.356 WHIP, 46 H, 2 HR, .256 opp AVG, 6 HBP, 5 WP, 15.72 K/9, 3.70 BB/9; suspended in April, reinstated later that month; dismissed from team on May 10

Overall Assessment

Romero’s plus fastball/slider combination and his command of that combo has the makings of, at the very least, a big league reliever, and more than just a specialist. If his changeup gains more consistency and he can use it 10% of the time, he has the skill set to project as a mid-rotation starter, with the chance to be more of a #2 starter because of the amount of swing and miss he generates on his pitches. In order to have a long major league career, he will have to maintain his conditioning around 225-230 lb, instead of the listed 240; he likely won’t add more velocity by replacing some of that body fat with lean muscle. The big key for him will be his maturity. An organization looking to draft him needs to be aware of his troubles at Houston and surround him with the right people to aid his growth as a future major leaguer.

Author: Jeff Israel