The Minnesota Twins will send rookie right-hander Fernando Romero to the mound this afternoon for his major league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays. Here’s a quick summary of what he brings to the table.
The Twins signed Romero out of the Dominican Republic back in 2011 for $220,000. After a strong rookie ball performance in 2013 he missed almost all of 2014 and 2015 with Tommy John surgery.
He came back impressively in 2016 with a 1.89 ERA in 90 innings between Low-A and High-A with a sharp 90/15 K/BB and just 66 hits allowed. He moved up to Double-A in 2017 and was reasonably successful, though there were some glitches late in the year.
Romero ranked fifth on the Minnesota Twins Top 20 Prospects for 2018 list with the following comment:
5) Fernando Romero, RHP, Grade B: Age 22; solid season in Double-A with 3.53 ERA, 120/45 K/BB in 125 innings, a mere four homers allowed; campaign ended on a down note with poor pitching in August (8.38 ERA) punctuated by a trip to the disabled list with a shoulder impingement; status unclear at the moment; when healthy combination of plus stuff and command could make him number three starter or impressive power reliever. ETA 2018 if healthy
As noted he had problems with his shoulder late in 2017 but so far 2018 has been quite good: 2.57 ERA in 21 innings in Triple-A, 20/10 K/BB, 17 hits. And healthy most importantly.
Romero is listed at 6-0, 215, a right-handed hitter and thrower born Christmas Eve, 1994. His fastball is his best pitch, clocked as high as 98 MPH, consistently in the 94-96 range with heavy action. This pitch earns 70 grades due to the combination of velocity and movement.
His second pitch is an average-to-plus slider which has improved considerably over the last two seasons. His change-up is inconsistent and generally average, but it is good enough as a third pitch for him to survive as a starter as long as his command holds up.
The biggest problem for Romero may be simple durability. He’s healthy at the moment but while the Tommy John surgery has likely resolved any elbow concerns, his late fade last year was a bit concerning since it involved the shoulder. He could make a dominant reliever if health issues prevent him from handling a larger workload but for now that’s a theoretical problem rather than a real one.
UPDATE: Romero threw 5.2 shutout innings in his debut, giving up four hits and three walks while fanning five.