One only has to go back 4-5 days to see articles by Philly.com and MiLB.com praising the Phillies top left-handed pitching prospect JoJo Romero. A fourth round pick by the Phillies in 2016, Romero has never had an ERA higher than 2.56 until reaching AA Reading this year.
Last season in 10 starts in Clearwater, Romero went 5-2 with a 2.24 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. That has changed in the hitters ballpark of the Reading Fightins. Through 11 starts in AA, he has gone 3-4 with a 5.11 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.
MLB.com ranks Romero as the Phillies 6th best prospect. He’s a 6 pitch pitcher featuring a four-seamer, sinker, cutter, slider, curve and change in his repertoire. He was a standout in the Junior College circuit, playing for Yavapai (the same JUCO as Ken Giles).
Both MiLB.com and Philly.com discussed that he’s been learning how to handle using 6 pitches since in Reading just days ago. Both mention that Romero has been working on his fastball location and work ethic. From what both portray, it seems that he is doing well in both categories.
In his last 3 starts before Reading’s Monday 17th annual morning game, Romero went 20 innings with a 2.25 ERA striking out 19 while allowing 15 hits and 3 walks. In the 7 games to start the season, he had a 6.38 ERA in 36.2 innings pitched allowing 43 hits and 19 walks. By all means, it looked like he had turned a corner.
In Moday’s game, Romero pitched 5+ innings giving up 4 ER with 5 hits and 2 walks. He started the 6th inning up walked 2 and gave up a single warranting a pitching change.
While one mediocre start is nothing to be concerned about, Romero’s velocity might be. From what I saw from the posted radar gun, he never threw a pitch over 90 MPH in Monday’s game, sitting in the 88-89 range. Romero was never a fireballer, but when he was drafted he was noted as throwing in the low 90’s. In his MLB.com prospect scouting report, it is mentioned that he was hitting 95 MPH all throughout the 2017 season with his sinker hitting 90-93.
To his credit, he looked promising with his pitch selection and control on the mound, causing a lot of weak contact and awkward swings. According to Jeff Israel, who follows the Reading team avidly, Romero was hitting 89-91 in May. The drop in velocity could be something to keep an eye on for the #6 Phillies prospect according to MLB.com. It is very possible that work on other aspects of his play could be taking away from the velocity temporarily, but the drop is still concerning. Time will tell if Romero can make the adjustments and live up to his #3 starter potential.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports