Live-armed left-handers always do well on draft day and 2017 will not be an exception. One of the top southpaws available for the MLB draft this year is University of Houston starting pitcher Seth Romero. Let’s take a look.
Romero was a high school pitcher in West Columbia, Texas. Eligible for the draft in 2014, he was on follow lists but was rated as a “needs to go to college and develop” type of player, too raw to interest most clubs in the draft. Not selected that spring, he went to the University of Houston and had an excellent year as a freshman in 2015, posting a 1.94 ERA in 83 innings with a 92/22 K/BB, used as both a starter and reliever. He followed up that summer pitching for Team USA.
His 2016 season got off to a rough start when he was suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team” in February, but he as re-instated in early March and took his place in the Cougars rotation, posting a 2.29 ERA in 94 innings with a 113/28 K/BB and just 60 hits allowed. He has been effective so far in 2017, posting a 3.20 ERA in 20 innings over three starts with a spectacular 34/3 K/BB ratio.
Romero is a 6-3 lefty, currently listed at 220 pounds, born April 19, 1996.
Romero shows viable velocity for a left-hander at 90-95 MPH, generally averaging 93. The velocity comes without a great deal of strain, he doesn’t have to push to get it, but his body is not classically projectable and further velocity increases are unlikely. That’s Ok if his secondaries work, which they do. His second pitch is an above-average slider. He has a change-up but it needs more work, though it should be average in time, giving him three major league pitches.
Romero throws quality strikes and has been adept at working all quadrants of the strike zone. His command has always been good but it has taken a further step forward in 2017. He’s maintained excellent strikeout rates throughout his college career and has stayed healthy despite concerns about his body type.
Romero’s main weakness has been conditioning: he was somewhere between 240 and 250 pounds a year ago and the suspension last spring was reportedly related to lack of effort in maintaining his body. The suspension seemed to wake him up: he’s worked himself into much better physical condition this year and is now listed at 220. He will always have to monitor this issue but he’s shown the willingness to improve.
His first three starts have gone quite well and pre-season expectations that Romero would take another step forward could be prescient. If the change-up progresses as expected and if he maintains his physical conditioning, Romero’s combination of solid stuff and sharp command will make him a first-day pick, possibly in the first round, with a chance to be a number four starter down the line.