Tampa Bay Rays rookie Enny Romero has thrown three shutout innings out of the bullpen in Tampa's first five games, fanning three with no runs, walks, or hits allowed. Is he something special or just another bullpen arm? Let's take a look.
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Enny Romero, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 6-3 WT: 200 DOB: January 24, 1991
2011: Grade B; 2012: Grade B-; 2013: Grade B-; 2014: Grade B; 2015: Grade C+
Still a technical rookie entering 2016, Enny Romero is one of the biggest teases in baseball, firing 94-100 MPH fastballs from the left side. His curveball and cutter both flash plus but are wildly inconsistent; he has a change-up too but it is weak. He’s officially a reliever now and will get plenty of chances as long as he throws this hard, but it remains to be seen if he ever develops sufficient consistency with his command to be more than an extra arm in the pen. Grade C.
Romero had a 5.79 ERA in 9.1 spring training innings, giving up 10 hits and two walks but also fanning 12. In his big league trial in 2015 he posted a 5.10 ERA in 30 innings with a 31/13 K/BB but 39 hits allowed. He was a bit on the bubble this spring but kept his job for Opening Day and is off to a good start in the regular season.
As noted Romero throws quite hard and is averaging 96 with his heater this year. His secondary pitches, particularly the cutter, have shown improvement and he's been overpowering in his early outings. This isn't really a surprise given his track record and arm strength; the talent has always been there, it is a matter of consistency.
Romero has shown reverse platoon splits for much of his career so he isn't an ideal LOOGY type. That's not a bad thing of course; indeed, his ability to handle right-handers means he can slot effectively as a general middle man. Although he has almost no minor league experience as a closer role (just one save in two opportunities), with further consistency gains he could take a larger role eventually.
Either way, there's always a spot in the bullpen somewhere for a 96 MPH left-handed fastball.