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Game Thread: Twins @ Mariners, 5/26 @ 9:10 PM CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:15 PM
I am getting this game thread up early because I am helping family members move tomorrow. Sadly this means I will not be able to watch th...
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Article: Ready To Move Up

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As Memorial Day approaches, it’s noteworthy the the first halves of the Kernels, Miracle and Lookouts seasons are coming to an end. Soon,...
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Article: 2018 MLB Draft Top 50 Prospects: 11-20

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:40 PM
We continue our countdown of the Top 50 Prospects in the 2018 MLB Draft by looking at the players ranked 11-20. During the last countdown...
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Time to shuffle the deck

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:06 PM
This could be a very bad week. I'd like to see them shuffle the roster/batting order and bullpen.   Release Grossman. DFA Kinley and...
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Interesting article about Buxton

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:06 PM
I enjoyed the article linked below about Buxton. As you can see, the Twins and lots of other folks seem to think that he could be a hall...
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TD Top Prospects: #1 Fernando Romero

Ever since Byron Buxton broke out in his first full season in the minors, he's been an easy choice as the top piece in Minnesota's system. From 2014 through 2016, Buxton was named either the No. 1 or No. 2 prospect in the game on basically every preseason prospect list, making his placement atop Twins-specific rankings a mere formality.

Last year, Buxton graduated out of qualifying status, opening up this distinction for the first time in what feels like ages. In this new world, Twins Daily's choice for the top Twins prospect goes against the grain.
Age: 22 (DOB: 12/24/94)
2016 Stats (A/A+): 90.1 IP, 1.89 ERA, 90/15 K/BB, 0.90 WHIP
ETA: 2018
2016 Ranking: NA

National Top 100 Rankings
BA: NR | MLB: NR | ESPN: 65 | BP: NR

Fernando Romero presents, I think, a unique situation in my time writing about the Twins. The process of creating our TD rankings involves congregating national perspectives, factoring in our personal preferences, and making adjustments based on what we've seen or heard directly. We found more variance across all those facets this year than I can ever recall.

There was no obvious pick for the top billing on this list, and if there was, it certainly wouldn't be Romero. He does not appear in three of the four national Top-100 rankings that we lean on for outside context. Even Keith Law of ESPN, who favors him, had the right-hander outside his top fifty. In the 2017 Prospect Handbook, each of the three collaborators (Seth, Jeremy and Cody) had different picks for No. 1 in the system – none chose Romero.

Yet, when the time came for our editorial group to settle on the official Twins Daily rankings, he felt like the natural choice despite being completely absent from last year's Top 20 (and even Aaron Gleeman's Top 40).

So just what is it about this 22-year-old with fewer than 200 pro innings that earns him our nod as best Minnesota Twins prospect?

At the end of the day, the buzz is just too loud to ignore.

What's To Like

In late 2011, the Twins signed Romero as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic when he was 16. They outbid at least two other teams who were deeply interested, locking him up for a reported $260,000. That's a fairly hefty sum and Romero made good on it with some promising early returns in rookie ball.

Minnesota put him on the fast track by sending him to Class-A Cedar Rapids as a 19-year-old in 2014, but the righty lasted only three starts before succumbing to a barking elbow. He underwent Tommy John surgery in June and went on to miss the entire 2015 season.

For a long time, Romero was simply out of sight. Even if you consider yourself a well-informed Twins fan, there's a decent chance you've never heard his name before. But his return to the scene in 2016 was so impressive, and such a vivid reminder of his immense potential, that there's now no ignoring his huge presence (both figuratively and literally) in Minnesota's pitching pipeline.

In November, when the time came to shield minor-leaguers from Rule 5 eligibility, Romero was among the prospects elevated to a precious 40-man roster spot. For many unfamiliar onlookers, it was a curious move. For anyone who followed his resurgent campaign, it was the opposite of a surprise.

After opening the year in extended spring, Romero was unleashed upon the Midwest League in late May, and needed only a month there to convince the front office he was ready for the next step. At Fort Myers, he put together a brilliant 11-start stretch, allowing just one home run over 62 innings with a 65-to-10 K/BB ratio. His best work came at the end of the summer, when he rattled off three consecutive scoreless starts with 28 strikeouts and two walks before hitting a predetermined inning limit.

These are extraordinarily encouraging signs from a kid who is coming back from reconstructive elbow surgery and almost a two-year absence. He exhibited zero rust, bypassing the initial control issues that often plague Tommy John survivors. And the stuff? It caught everyone's attention.

"He's an extremely special talent," said Jeff Smith, manager of the Miracle. "Talent like he has doesn't come along very often."

"He's probably got some of the best stuff in our organization," opined Henry Bonilla, the pitching coach for Fort Myers.

Brice Zimmerman, who recently moved on from the Miracle's media department, took his praise a step further, calling Romero the "best arm I've seen in six years" with the team.

The positive reviews are contagious, and why wouldn't they be? Even over long outings, Romero can maintain mid-90s velocity with the heater and he's been known to dial it up to 100 MPH. He adds a hard cutter, and locates a power slider that consistently puts hitters away with two strikes. Even his changeup is more advanced than most at his age.

Romero delivers from a large sturdy frame, which presents a cautionary factor in the eyes of some. At 6-feet-even, he surely weighs a good bit more than his listed 215. He's a big boy. I've heard exaggerated physique comparisons to Bartolo Colon and I don't think they were intended to be flattering. But then again, Colon is still pitching effectively in the majors at age 43 and continues to pile up huge inning totals year after year.

This isn't to say Romero should be content to let himself balloon, but as long as he stays on top of his conditioning I don't see his build as a mark against him; quite the contrary in fact. Big pitchers with tree trunk legs who generate power from the lower half tend to hold up better against the punishing workload demands of starting in the majors.

Romero combines the stuff, command, intuition, poise and physical foundation to project as a workhorse at the front of the rotation. That can't be said about anyone else in the organization, and arguably there hasn't been a Twins prospect to embody all those qualities in many years.

This is why we feel confident in labeling Romero as the cream of the system's prospect crop heading into the 2017 season.

What's Left To Work On

All that remains is for Romero stay healthy and do his thing. His arsenal will play at any level and any mild concerns over his control evaporated over the course of the season (he walked six of 170 batters in his final eight starts).

Obviously, any guy who hasn't yet totaled 100 innings in a season has much to prove in the durability department, but Romero gives little reason for concern. He handled everything thrown at him in his first year back and got stronger as the summer wore on.

I will note there has been some apprehension expressed over his delivery. Said Law: "Romero over-rotates in his delivery and lands wide open, which often causes a pitcher to yank pitches to his glove side. Romero hasn’t had that problem yet, but for command’s sake and the health of his elbow, he should be landing online to the plate."

This is an area where where the developmental impact of Derek Falvey, a noted student of pitching mechanics, could be particularly beneficial.

What's Next

Where the Twins choose to start Romero could prove quite telling with regard to their plans for him. No one would blame the organization for sending him back to High-A, with an eye on repeating the strong start, then earning a midseason promotion to Double-A and maybe a late trip to Rochester or even a September call-up.

But his 11 starts with the Miracle last year made it pretty clear he's ready for the next challenge. If he starts in Chattanooga, a fast start immediately puts him on the big-league radar, since he's already on the 40-man roster. He'd potentially be ahead of guys like Tyler Jay and Kohl Stewart – who already have experience in Double-A – in line for an MLB debut.


~~~


Read up on our previous installments in the Twins Daily top prospects series:

TD Top Prospects: #20-16
TD Top Prospects: #15-11
TD Top Prospects: #10 Lewin Diaz
TD Top Prospects: #9 Travis Blankenhorn
TD Top Prospects: #8 Kohl Stewart
TD Top Prospects: #7 Adalberto Mejia
TD Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier
TD Top Prospects: #5 Tyler Jay
TD Top Prospects: #4 Nick Gordon
TD Top Prospects: #3 Alex Kirilloff
TD Top Prospects: #2 Stephen Gonsalves
TD Top Prospects: #1 Fernando Romero


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76 Comments

Please say healthy! Please say healthy! Please say healthy! Please say healthy!

(Oh, and keep missing bats.)

    • glunn, gunnarthor, DJSim22 and 8 others like this
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FormerMinnasotan
Feb 24 2017 12:05 AM
I was quite impressed with Romero last year. Honestly I think as long as he stays healthy I think he definitely is a top of the rotation starter.

I would hope the Twins simply put Romero in AA to start the 2017 season. With him on the 40 man his options will run out quicker and since he dominated in his 11 starts I see no reason for him to repeat a level he succeeded on. Plus if the goal this year is a full regular season (120-130 innings) then to get Romero to the Twins staff in 2018 it would seem smart to split his time between Chattanooga and Rochester this year so Romero can repeat the start of the 2018 season in Rochester just waiting for the promotion to the Twins staff some time in 2018.
    • glunn, gunnarthor, DocBauer and 1 other like this

I am way too young to be saying its been a long time since I've seen a good twins rotation, but Its been a really long time. It nice to see how many quality arms are at or approaching AA or higher. This front office seems to get that the reinforcements are coming as they have done nothing to add to an otherwise ugly rotation. The hope that professionals who have background in analytics, scouting and pitcher development have in these guys (Stewart, Gonsalves, Romero, Jay) brings me real hope that maybe, just maybe, we'll see another Twin win the Cy in the next decade and bring rotation to what has otherwise been a revolving door.

    • glunn, birdwatcher, gunnarthor and 3 others like this

I have enjoyed this countdown and kudos to all of the authors.

 

I wish that some of the players had sounded better, but am grateful that we got to hear all of the positives and negatives as to each player.

 

 

    • James, brvama, Oldgoat_MN and 2 others like this
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HitInAPinch
Feb 24 2017 02:44 AM

Romero is one that the Twins really, really need to work out.

    • TheLeviathan and d-mac like this
I could see him begining the season at Ft Myers initially jdue to only 11 starts there, possibly a full rotation at AA, and let the first month play out at both AAA and AA to settle a few spots, and then promote him. But on the surface, it would sure seem natural to move him to Chattanooga right from the get go. (Same could be argued for Gonsalves to Rochester).

A new FO, new training and development techniques being brought in, (it appears Allen may be committed to change as well), with Mejia, Gonsalves, Stewart, Jay, Jorge and Romero has me almost as excited in just watching pitching development in 2017 as watching the Twins themselves!

A few tweaks in delivery here, better control of a 3rd pitch there, and building up some innings for a few guys, man, call me an optomist with Twins-red colored glasses but I'm feeling so much better about the future rotation than I have felt in a long time.
    • James, Mike Frasier Law, brvama and 2 others like this

 

I am way too young to be saying its been a long time since I've seen a good twins rotation, but Its been a really long time. It nice to see how many quality arms are at or approaching AA or higher. This front office seems to get that the reinforcements are coming as they have done nothing to add to an otherwise ugly rotation. The hope that professionals who have background in analytics, scouting and pitcher development have in these guys (Stewart, Gonsalves, Romero, Jay) brings me real hope that maybe, just maybe, we'll see another Twin win the Cy in the next decade and bring rotation to what has otherwise been a revolving door.

As a person who was at the first game as an usher and has now 55 years of watching and reading I can say the Twins have hardly ever had a good rotation.  Maybe two top guys, but look at the 87 world champs - that rotation was scary.  If this group can come through and we can push out the old and mediocre it would be wonderful. 

    • Oldgoat_MN, goulik, Tibs and 5 others like this

Excellent write-up. Thank you.

 

If Romero becomes a true #1 it changes everything. It makes the SP success of one of Berrios, Duffey or Jay to make this team one FA SP away from true contention.

 

I like those odds.

    • Nick Nelson, Mike Frasier Law, Tom Froemming and 1 other like this

Nicely done.  Unlike some of the more informed I had no idea who would be number one and this is a really fun way to kick off the new season of hope and give me someone to try to follow.  Lets hope the Twins can get the right pitching coaches to bring along the potential new rotation.  I would say that 1965 and 1970 were our two best rotations when we try to look at a complete rotation and not just the stars: http://www.baseball-...MIN/staff.shtmlLets hope these young guys in the 1 - 20 rankings can join Berrios and get near the top of the list.  

 

 

    • goulik likes this

Twins Rankings of Romero:

 

Twins Daily: 1 

Seth: 2

Nick: 1

Jeremy: 2

Cody: 3

BB America: 4

BB Prospectus: 3

John Sickels: 3

MLB Pipeline: 4

Keith Law: 2

    • Mike Frasier Law, Oldgoat_MN, nytwinsfan and 2 others like this
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clutterheart
Feb 24 2017 08:33 AM

 

Twins Rankings of Romero:

 

Twins Daily: 1 

Seth: 2

Nick: 1

Jeremy: 2

Cody: 3

BB America: 4

BB Prospectus: 3

John Sickels: 3

MLB Pipeline: 4

Keith Law: 2

Just about every Twins Prospect ranking has a different order.I can't decide if that is a good thing or bad thing. 
On one hand its a bummer there isn't a consensus super prospect in the system.But on the other hand there are lots of guys who might break out.

    • brvama, nytwinsfan and Tom Froemming like this

 I read the descriptions and can't help but think he should be with the Twins right now or at least in high A ball for just a few starts and promoted if he dominates there. I get that he only threw about 100 innings last year but that is just officially. I assume he threw innings the first two months of the year also.  Best stuff in organization and great command.  I am with others that say if he has durability issues then the smartest thing to do is use what innings he has now rather than waste them in the minors. I sometimes wonder if a Blyleven were drafted today he would be put on a fast track to reach the majors at age 22 rather than the age 19 when he actually did reach the majors back in the day.  

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

I like Romero a lot. Probably wouldn't have him #1 but six months from now it might look like the obvious decision.  

 

It's also a nice reminder that both Romero and Thrope were relatively unheralded international signings in 2011 that look pretty exciting.  

    • birdwatcher, Oldgoat_MN, nytwinsfan and 1 other like this

 

I like Romero a lot. Probably wouldn't have him #1 but six months from now it might look like the obvious decision.  

 

It's also a nice reminder that both Romero and Thrope were relatively unheralded international signings in 2011 that look pretty exciting.  

I am hoping that by the middle of the summer we are as high on Thorpe as we currently are on Gonsalves or even more so.  Seemed like the old reports on Throrpe showed he had a bit better arsenal.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

Hard to argue with this ranking.The key for Romero is to prove that he is a starter and for this he a. needs to get some real innings under his belt (90-1/3 in 2016 was ok; he needs to be pushed to 140ish) and b. develop that changeup because even though he has two plus plus pitches (fastball and slider/cutter,) he will need a third to start.Otherwise he is right up there with Burdi :)

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Willihammer
Feb 24 2017 10:26 AM

 

But his 11 starts with the Miracle last year made it pretty clear he's ready for the next challenge. If he starts in Chattanooga, a fast start immediately puts him on the big-league radar, since he's already on the 40-man roster. He'd potentially be ahead of guys like Tyler Jay and Kohl Stewart – who already have experience in Double-A – in line for an MLB debut.

 

They have to start him in Chattanooga right?

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Taildragger8791
Feb 24 2017 10:55 AM

They have to start him in Chattanooga right?


Isn't the AA rotation pretty full? It might take a few weeks to sort guys out at the upper levels.

 

 I read the descriptions and can't help but think he should be with the Twins right now or at least in high A ball for just a few starts and promoted if he dominates there. I get that he only threw about 100 innings last year but that is just officially. I assume he threw innings the first two months of the year also.  Best stuff in organization and great command.  I am with others that say if he has durability issues then the smartest thing to do is use what innings he has now rather than waste them in the minors. I sometimes wonder if a Blyleven were drafted today he would be put on a fast track to reach the majors at age 22 rather than the age 19 when he actually did reach the majors back in the day.  

 

They count his innings in Extended Spring Training and his innings from Instructs, so most likely he pitched 120-130 innings last year. Hopefully he can get to 145-150 this year. But, the fact that he missed so much time with Tommy John surgery, it is ok to be a little more patient, especially that first year returning.

    • MN_ExPat likes this

As sick as I am of hearing it, patience is key.  We can move players up throughout the farm system as seen fit as long as they're having successes.  However, for some reason or another, our farm grown studs aren't translating to the pros as quickly as the Alex Bregmans and Kris Bryants of the world.  In comparison to the NFL, it's like drafting a quarterback and wanting results immediately in our day and age of absolutely zero patience.  I believe our studs will be studs, but we have to let them mature and grow within the pro game.  So as tough as they are to watch at times, you have to keep telling yourself to be patient.  No way around it.  It took KC a solid four years to get their present class up and running.

So long story longer, being a true Minnesota fan, I don't expect dominance or immediate impacts from these prospects.  Buxton & Berrios made me quickly forget Francisco Liriano's dominance as a young pro, and brought me back to realizing the rarity of immediate impact players.

 

That being said, I LOVE the Romero & Gonsalves 1-2 punch.  Where's any love for Luis Arreaz on this overall list but he way?  Twins for President in 2022!!!

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this
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Willihammer
Feb 24 2017 11:35 AM

 

Isn't the AA rotation pretty full? It might take a few weeks to sort guys out at the upper levels.

According to Seth's organizational depth chart Chattanooga is lining up something like:

 

Stephen Gonsalves (22),

Felix Jorge (23),

Tyler Jay (22),

Kohl Stewart (22),

Randy Rosario (22),

Keaton Steele (25)

 

Jorge and Rosario are the only 2 on the 40 man.

 

And in AAA:

Jason Wheeler (26),

Adalberto Mejia (23),

Aaron Slegers (24),

Nick Tepesch (28),

David Hurlbut(27),

Drew Rucinski (28),

Nick Greenwood (29),

Yohan Pino (33)

 

Mejia is the only one there on the 40 man.

    • caninatl04 likes this
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Willihammer
Feb 24 2017 11:38 AM

Bump Gonsalves to AAA, Romero to AA, and drop one of the non-roster guys at AAA?

    • Vanimal46 and jrod23 like this

 

Bump Gonsalves to AAA, Romero to AA, and drop one of the non-roster guys at AAA?

 

Could happen but if I were the Twins I would want to start valuable pitchers at Chattanooga (historic average 70 high and 45 low, the first week of April)than in Rochester (historic average 51 high and 33 low same time.) Nothing wrong with having some of the non-roster invitees pitching games in the cold in AAA until the weather warms. As far as competition goes, it is pretty similar between AA and AAA.

    • birdwatcher and dbminn like this
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TheLeviathan
Feb 24 2017 12:09 PM
When is our apology to Bill Smith scheduled? (Kidding....mostly. Yet another top prospect his aggressive international work produced)
    • Nick Nelson, DJSim22, Danchat and 2 others like this

Romero must have been one of the last transactions under the Bill Smith regime.  His MILB.com bio says he officially signed on Nov. 4, 2011, and Smith was dismissed on Nov. 7.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

Loved reading the countdown articles, guys. When the countdown got to #2 I had no idea who #1 would be. Forgot about Romero, but I love his numbers and upside. Gonsalves would have been my guess, but with 3-5 more MPH on his fastball, Romero, at least on paper, appears to have a higher ceiling. It was much more exciting in past years when top prospects were Buxton, Sano, Kepler, Berrios, etc. but with these guys on the ML roster it takes time to reload. I hope and pray that our top prospects can soon reach their ceiling and complement the young talent in the majors, especially the pitchers.


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