I got a question via Twitter from @MsMLB_MiLB about what kind of player Enny Romero, the pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, will be.
The Dominican born Enny ranked 13th on my list of top prospects for the Appalachian League this season. He is a 6'3" Lefty with a lean body at 165 LBS which means he's projectable. In 2008, he pitched in the Dominican Summer League. His numbers were good with 20 K’s and 8 BB’s in 16.1 IP. He only allowed 11 hits and 5 ER. Comparing his 2008 numbers to pitchers in the DSL this season, he would still sit outside the top 40 prospects but he would be on my follow list. The DSL is such a pitching dominated league.
He moved to the Gulf Coast League in 2009 where his main issue was his control, walking 21 in 39.1 innings. That isn’t a bad debut in the states but again, it didn’t gain him a lot of attention. Then he really seemed to put things together this season. He started all 14 games he pitched in and averaged over 5 IP/game. He kept his WHIP to .955, struck out 72 and walked only 14 while leading the league in ERA. This earned him a short promotion to the New York Penn League where he made one start, walked 5, struck out 4 and only allowed one hit, a HR.
When looking for similar results to his for a basis for a projection, I see some familiar names. I also see a lot of guys who didn’t make it. One of the hardest things to find is someone who threw as many innings as he did. Many of the players that pitch in the Appalachian are draft picks from that season and don’t play the whole season, or are promoted mid-season because of performance, so I just looked for similar rates.
I found 3 names that had similar numbers. Alex Smit was the first. He pitched 28.1 IP in 2004. He Struck out 43 and walked only 10 while posting a 1.235 WHIP. His K rate and command were better than what Romero posted, but Romero pitched more innings and was more efficient, giving up less base runners. Smit lost some control after being promoted to the Midwest League in 2005 before hitting a wall in 2007. His K rate fell drastically and his BB rate was poor. He changed organizations but has yet to get past AA. Smit never got a lot of credit as a top prospect. He was an international signing, as was Romero.
Troy Patton put up good numbers in the Appalachian in 2004 after getting drafted in the 9th round and signing for $550,000. Patton only pitched less than half as many innings but had a better K/9(10.3) rate and BB/9(1.61) rate but allowed more hits/9(7.4). Their ERA was within .02 of each other. He followed that season with a great year, split between the South Atlantic League and the Carolina League and jumped into Baseball America’s top 100 prospects. He made it to the majors in 2007 but then got hurt and has not regained his past form.
Adam Wainwright was drafted in 2000, 29th overall. He had a nice season in 2000. He split time between the Appalachian and the Gulf Coast League pitching 61.1 IP, striking out 81 and walking just 12. He had a WHIP of .897 and was rated the 97th best prospect by Baseball America after the 2000 season.
Looking at these 3 players, it shows 3 outcomes that could happen to Romero. Many more outcomes are possible but I would guess he follows a similar path of Patton, hopefully without the injuries. That means that he won’t get a lot of prospect attention yet this off-season, but if he follows it up with a good year in the Midwest League, where he should spend the whole season if the Rays continue their approach with their arms, he should then get a lot of attention.