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Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #2 Fernando Romero

Fernando Romero was Twins Daily’s top prospect last season, but it was easy to predict that he’d be unseated. Even a year ago at this time, it would have been a pretty safe bet to pencil in the future No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 MLB Draft in this season’s top spot. Still, Romero faced plenty of competition for the second spot. What set Romero apart from the other contenders?
Age: 23 (DOB:12/24/1994)
2017 Stats (AA): 125 IP, 3.53 ERA, 120 K, 45 BB, 1.35 WHIP
ETA: Late 2018
2017 Ranking: 1

National Top 100 Rankings
BA: NR | MLB: 68 | ESPN: 47 | BP: 97

What’s To Like?
Romero has a plus fastball that tops out at 98, paired with a plus slider in the upper 80s and his changeup is average. He showed his true potential over a 13-start stretch that spanned from May 24 to Aug. 2. Over that stretch, Romero was 9-1 with a 1.40 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 9.9 K/9 over 70.2 innings pitched.

Excuse me while I wipe the sweat off my brow.

Romero was excellent at limiting damage, holding opposing batters to a .256/.330/.351 (.681) line despite giving up a .331 BABIP. He’s surrendered just six home runs over 303.1 innings in the minor leagues. Among the 54 pitchers to log at least 120 innings in Double-A last season, Romero was second in FIP (2.93), third in swinging strike rate (12.0), fifth in K/9 (8.64) and sixth in GB/FB (2.00).

The Twins will certainly give Romero every opportunity to develop as a starter, but per Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook “some see him eventually turning into a Francisco Rodriguez-type late-inning piece.” That’s one hell of a backup plan.

What’s Left To Work On?
Romero limped into the offseason, pitching to a 10.67 ERA and 2.09 WHIP over his final three starts. He had been limited to five innings per outing over the final two months of the season due to concerns over his innings, and ended the year on the DL due to a shoulder impingement.

Thanks to Seth, we know Romero is entering 2018 healthy. Then what’s left to work on? Hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Here’s what Romero said to Seth in the piece that’s linked above:

”I’ve been working on development of my changeup. But I’ll be better this year. I’ve been working on it. I’m going to keep it up.”

The development of that changeup may be the determining factor on whether or not Romero remains in the rotation. Lefties had an OPS of more than 100 points higher than right-handed batters against him last year (.740 OPS vs. .631 OPS).

The other pivotal element in determining Romero’s future role may be his walk rate. After issuing free passes to just 4.3 percent of the hitters he faced in 2016, that rate jumped to 8.3 last year. That’s not alarming, but it’s higher than teammates and fellow top-20 prospects Stephen Gonsalvez (6.5), Zack Littell (7.5) and Felix Jorge (6.6) all had in Double-A last season.

What’s Next?
It appears likely that Romero will open 2018 back in Chattanooga, but assuming all goes well he’ll be Rochester bound before long. It also seems like a good bet that he’ll make his major league debut at some point this season, as well. Having thrown 125 innings last year, however, it’s safe to assume the Twins will be keeping a close eye on his workload again in 2018.

TD Top Prospects: 16-20
TD Top Prospects: 11-15
TD Top Prospect: #10 Akil Baddoo
TD Top Prospect: #9 Brusdar Graterol
TD Top Prospects: #8 Blayne Enlow
TD Top Prospects: #7 Brent Rooker
TD Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier
TD Top Prospects: #5 Alex Kirilloff
TD Top Prospects: #4 Stephen Gonsalves
TD Top Prospects: #3 Nick Gordon
TD Top Prospects: #2 Fernando Romero
TD Top Prospects: #1 (Coming Soon)
Get to know more about Fernando Romero and much more in the 2018 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.

ORDER NOW: 2018 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $15.99)

ORDER NOW: 2018 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $10.99)

The 2018 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on almost 160 Twins minor leaguers.

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29 Comments

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Old Twins Cap
Feb 19 2018 09:17 PM

Wow.Bullish on Romero.

 

Hasn't been to AAA level yet.Fewer innings than many prospects.Decent stats.Better raw stuff. 

 

And,

 

Hope you are right.

    • Comrade Bork and Tomj14 like this
I could see Romero getting a cup this September in a couple of relief appearances. I think he ends up around 150 innings in AA and AAA; thus, won't have enough gas in the tank to contribute as a Starter for the Twins this year. 2019 look out though! If this kid can consistently pitch 6-8 innings/game throughout the 1st half of 2019 he'll be on the Twins' staff after the All-Star Break. He's definitely one to watch this year. Just like with Berrios a couple years ago, he'll need to show consistency before joining The Show for good.
    • Twins33 and nytwinsfan like this

The thing about Romero that we haven't seen among any other Twins pitching prospects in a while (forever?) is he combines high K% with high GB/lowHR%.While Berrios had the good K rates, he also gives up a lot of FB, and thus a lot of HR. Even in the minors, his GB rates were always in the low 40s or high 30s. If Romero can strikeout even 8 per 9 innings at the major league level, and also have a GB rate of close to 50%, he's a # 2 starter.

    • Twins33, TNTwinsFan, Tibs and 4 others like this

wow .330 BABIP.  Puts the last month in perspective.  He was great but had some bad luck.  Let's get him going strong.  Hope he can debut this year.

I absolutely agree turning out to be a top bullpen arm is nothing to sneeze at! But what just kills me at times is how little faith some have in him as a still developing SP option and want to see him move to the pen now or hope he can do that late in 2018. I get that he could help the club initially in that role. Others have before. And some want to look at IP the last couple of seasons and a late fade to proclaim him as a pen option.

He's only 23yo until late December 2018. He missed 2 FULL SEASONS due to injury and can sling it like he does! Developmentally, on the mound, he's a 21yo. We all hate the word "patience". In our daily lives, and also in regard to the Twins finding top rotation arms. But to be down on a 23yo still building up full season endurance and harnessing his change with the kind of dominance he's shown when healthy is just crazy. Let him continue to develop, start the season at Chattanooga maybe and promote him after a month or so. Let's just say he doesn't debut until 2019. You'd think a then 24yo with his arm arriving at some point that season would be slow or bad?

Love the potential of this kid!
    • Thrylos, diehardtwinsfan, USNMCPO and 8 others like this

I absolutely agree turning out to be a top bullpen arm is nothing to sneeze at! But what just kills me at times is how little faith some have in him as a still developing SP option and want to see him move to the pen now or hope he can do that late in 2018. I get that he could help the club initially in that role. Others have before. And some want to look at IP the last couple of seasons and a late fade to proclaim him as a pen option.
He's only 23yo until late December 2018. He missed 2 FULL SEASONS due to injury and can sling it like he does! Developmentally, on the mound, he's a 21yo. We all hate the word "patience". In our daily lives, and also in regard to the Twins finding top rotation arms. But to be down on a 23yo still building up full season endurance and harnessing his change with the kind of dominance he's shown when healthy is just crazy. Let him continue to develop, start the season at Chattanooga maybe and promote him after a month or so. Let's just say he doesn't debut until 2019. You'd think a then 24yo with his arm arriving at some point that season would be slow or bad?
Love the potential of this kid!


I'm not hoping he ends up in the pen. I only suggested that he may have to shift to the pen at the end of next year if he gets a cup of coffee with the Twins due to innings limitations.
    • ThejacKmp, DocBauer, gagu and 1 other like this
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Bob Sacamento
Feb 20 2018 01:41 AM

Okay, before Brusdar came along, Romero was my EXST/GCL buddy, during his rehab process of first TJS and then knee surgery, Fern was out there every single day watching the games (EXST, GCL, ST, Instructs, etc) something he didn't have to do.If you listen closely you can hear him in countless videos of mine talking and talking or pulling out my leg hair followed by my screaming.And nothing beats having Romero scream across the baseball fields "Dr. Jon you made it!"  

 

So with my stated bro-crush on Fernando, I'll say that I've always saw him as a late inning shut down reliever and that he could be doing right now.I say that for other reasons that most point out, namely his bull like demeanor on the mound, his max effort delivery and that he's always been obsessed with the gun.I can't count how many times during his rehab process he'd ask me between innings what his fastball was reading on the guns. Still if he can further develop the change and stay healthy, he's a top of the rotation starter so this year is good barometer for future usage.

 

Here are a few videos I took on Fernando "El Toro" Romero over the last year or so:

 

5/14/16 Pitching in Extended Spring Training

 

 

9/23/16 Pitching in Instructional League

 

4/1/17 Pitching in Spring Training

 

    • Carole Keller, Han Joelo, birdwatcher and 17 others like this

I absolutely agree turning out to be a top bullpen arm is nothing to sneeze at! But what just kills me at times is how little faith some have in him as a still developing SP option and want to see him move to the pen now or hope he can do that late in 2018. I get that he could help the club initially in that role. Others have before. And some want to look at IP the last couple of seasons and a late fade to proclaim him as a pen option.

He's only 23yo until late December 2018. He missed 2 FULL SEASONS due to injury and can sling it like he does! Developmentally, on the mound, he's a 21yo. We all hate the word "patience". In our daily lives, and also in regard to the Twins finding top rotation arms. But to be down on a 23yo still building up full season endurance and harnessing his change with the kind of dominance he's shown when healthy is just crazy. Let him continue to develop, start the season at Chattanooga maybe and promote him after a month or so. Let's just say he doesn't debut until 2019. You'd think a then 24yo with his arm arriving at some point that season would be slow or bad?

Love the potential of this kid!


No, it wouldn't be bad. The problem is that then you've used 2 options before he even debuts.
That's where the 2 years of lost development tempt you to try to push him up a little more aggressively.
    • beckmt, SF Twins Fan and Tomj14 like this

Still like him as a starter, and the Twins need him as a starter.After Romero next Twins starting batch will probably be ready at best in 2020, more likely 2021.That is the end of the window for the current crop of hitters, not counting the ones the Twins extend.I still feel the Twins will probably extend 2-3 and see how the rest fall out.

    • blindeke likes this

 

He's only 23yo until late December 2018. He missed 2 FULL SEASONS due to injury and can sling it like he does! Developmentally, on the mound, he's a 21yo. We all hate the word "patience". In our daily lives, and also in regard to the Twins finding top rotation arms. But to be down on a 23yo still building up full season endurance and harnessing his change with the kind of dominance he's shown when healthy is just crazy. Let him continue to develop, start the season at Chattanooga maybe and promote him after a month or so. Let's just say he doesn't debut until 2019. You'd think a then 24yo with his arm arriving at some point that season would be slow or bad?

Love the potential of this kid!

 

You had me at patience.

 

Reading on how Molitor views Romero, it's pretty clear he'd like him in the bullpen.He raves about his bullpen upside, then says, "...but they say he has potential as a starter."Well, I'm glad to see he's willing to give him a shot.This kid's getting close to the cusp of The Show.Just see it through and do things right.Haven't had a pitcher hyped like this since Liriano.When he gets his shot, if he has a breakout season 1/2 as good as Liriano's short-lived '06, I'd be thrilled.Keep that kid healthy.

The most encouraging thing for me as a Twins fan is to see 4 pitchers in the Top 10 who all have a change to be a 1, 2 or at least a #3 type pitcher in a rotation. Then to have Thorpe, Littell and Jorge not far behind is also encouraging. We have lacked starting pitching development for so long. It's nice to see thenext wave of starters will be home grown.

    • birdwatcher, twinssouth, gagu and 2 others like this

Putting Romero in the pen will be shooting themselves in the foot.He is the only SP they have with top of the rotation potential (save Graterol who is 3 seasons or so away). His only issue is endurance right now.He needs to be stretched in order to improve that, and placing him to the pen will sabotage that.

    • birdwatcher, Tibs, DocBauer and 9 others like this

I've decided that, until they actually prove otherwise, I choose to believe our number 3 can play major league shortstop and our number 2 will be a starter.Makes me happier.

We know how impossible it is to get #1 starters in Minnesota. We couldn't draft them; we couldn't develop them when we traded for them (Meyer and May); and we know we'll never pay the money for great free agents. That is why it is so important to give these young prospects as much time in the minors as they need to work on the pitches they haven't perfected yet. We may have rushed Berrios his first year.

 

If Romero's fastball and slider are plus pitches already, work on the changeup as much as needed in the minors to make that into a plus pitch. Don't be afraid to sacrifice minor league stats to better your chances of dominating at the ML level. If he comes up at the end of a season close to an innings limit, we can talk about being a reliever--at most for one season. It scares me when we turn guys like Meyer, May, and other top prospects into relievers after having failed at harvesting their potential as starters. Let's hope Falvine has better success than Terry Ryan had. I truly believe they will.

    • mikelink45 and twinssouth like this

He can be our '16 Berrios candidate, though hopefully with better results.

If he can develop a reliable changeup, he's got a big future as a starter, I think. I'd love to see him get 150 innings or so between AA-AAA while working on that changeup and refining his control a little.

 

I don't want him to go to the bullpen unless he flames out as a starter. Sure, it's be nice to see him flinging that gas at people in the late innings and watching people flail at the slider to close things out, but I want to see what he can do as a starter. He's got two plus pitches and if he can make a little more out of that changeup he could be an ace. Let's give him the chance.

    • Twins33, 70charger, mikelink45 and 3 others like this
Can we just ignore the BA list now? It is such an outlier.....

As for Romero..... If they are in serious contention after the ASB, he should be in Minnesota in the bullpen. He can always be stretched back out. You only get so many years of good okaty, health, and luck. Continuing to always wait for next year gets you hope, with little to show for it.

If he's a shutdown bullpen arm, and they are a legit team, he should be here.
    • gunnarthor, HitInAPinch, rghrbek and 1 other like this

Our individual rankings:

 

Seth (4), Nick (2), Tom (2), Cody (5).

    • mikelink45, twinssouth and MN_ExPat like this

Gotta keep starting him.

 

I envision his first month or two being spent in AA. Provided no performance issues, the next few in AAA. If still performing bring him up in the bullpen toward end of year to keep his innings under whatever limit there may be. 

 

I don't think it's a foregone conclusion he makes a start for the Twins this year.

    • Twins33, 70charger, DocBauer and 2 others like this

 

Can we just ignore the BA list now? It is such an outlier.....

As for Romero..... If they are in serious contention after the ASB, he should be in Minnesota in the bullpen. He can always be stretched back out. You only get so many years of good okaty, health, and luck. Continuing to always wait for next year gets you hope, with little to show for it.

If he's a shutdown bullpen arm, and they are a legit team, he should be here.

agreed, he needs to be in MN at some time this year. If not wouldn't it be his 3rd option?

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Deduno Abides
Feb 20 2018 12:10 PM
I hope he improves the timing between his arm and his back leg, which really lags in the Bob Sacamento videos. It’s hard to tell how much he’s using his core, but the sharp angles his shoulder goes through is what could lead to impingement.
    • Bob Sacamento likes this
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FormerMinnasotan
Feb 20 2018 12:14 PM
I don’t see why he can’t start in AAA, especially because it’s been proven his last 4 starts we’re poor due to injury, not just poor performance by its self. If Romero has a 140-150 innings limit why should 40-60 innings be at AA? Shouldn’t we push him up faster? I mean I’d rather not see Romero in AA and Thorpe in A+ given their innings limits. I’d rather see by the end of the year Romero on the verge of pitching in the bigs and Thorpe in AAA. Also, I hope the Twins try to make Romero stick as a starter, with his arsenal he projects higher then most (save Graterol, Enlow, and possibly Thorpe). Just to give up and stick him in the bullpen seems sad and misguided when there is hope he can be a top of the line starter. And I am not worried if he only has an average change, you know who else has that? Carlos Martinez of the St Louis Cardinals and he is fairly close to what Romero can be as a starter.
    • Loosey likes this
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Tom Froemming
Feb 20 2018 12:35 PM

 

I don’t see why he can’t start in AAA

If the main thing he's working on is the changeup, in my opinion it doesn't make a huge difference where he starts. But this is how the opening day assignments could work out:

 

Twins: Berrios, Odorizzi, Gibson, Sanchez

AAA: Mejia, Slegers, Jorge, Duffey, Gonsalvez, Myles Jaye? Enns? Stewart? 

 

It also may make some sense to try and keep Romero in the Southern League out of the gates instead of sending him further north. So it's not to say that Romero isn't ready for Triple-A, or anything like that. Plus, it's not like you can't call him up from Chattanooga if necessary. I believe the Twins did that with Jorge last season.

    • Twins33, DocBauer, gagu and 1 other like this
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SF Twins Fan
Feb 20 2018 12:43 PM

 

I don’t see why he can’t start in AAA, especially because it’s been proven his last 4 starts we’re poor due to injury, not just poor performance by its self. If Romero has a 140-150 innings limit why should 40-60 innings be at AA? Shouldn’t we push him up faster? I mean I’d rather not see Romero in AA and Thorpe in A+ given their innings limits. I’d rather see by the end of the year Romero on the verge of pitching in the bigs and Thorpe in AAA. Also, I hope the Twins try to make Romero stick as a starter, with his arsenal he projects higher then most (save Graterol, Enlow, and possibly Thorpe). Just to give up and stick him in the bullpen seems sad and misguided when there is hope he can be a top of the line starter. And I am not worried if he only has an average change, you know who else has that? Carlos Martinez of the St Louis Cardinals and he is fairly close to what Romero can be as a starter.

 

Part of the reason he'd start in AA is the depth the Twins currently have at pitching.

 

Twins: Santana, Berrios, Gibson, Odorizzi and Mejia

AAA Starters:Slegers, Gonsalves, Jorge, Enns and Huges/Littel/May

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Bob Sacamento
Feb 20 2018 12:57 PM

 

I hope he improves the timing between his arm and his back leg, which really lags in the Bob Sacamento videos. It’s hard to tell how much he’s using his core, but the sharp angles his shoulder goes through is what could lead to impingement.

I believe you are talking about his hip to shoulder separation which I do have concerns about (aka his torque). 

 

The way to assess hip-shoulder separation is to look at the pitcher just as he begins trunk rotation, which should take place just after foot strike for a well-timed delivery, to evaluate the position of the shoulder axis as it compares to angle of hip rotation. A pitcher who loads the upper body by twisting the torso will increase the angle of hip-shoulder separation, as will a pitcher who allows the hips to rotate further by delaying trunk rotation after foot strike.

 

Momentum and torque are the power grades, representing the kinetic energy that is flowing through the system, and pitchers who grade well on these two categories tend to fall into the “violent” bin. Part of the explanation for the assumed violence is that high-energy pitchers often struggle to stabilize the motion, resulting in issues with repetition and pitch command.

 

As a Chiropractor and Kinesiologist (not Applied Kinesiology that stuffs fake), I'm a big NPA/Tom House/Doug Thorburn fan, so when I look at pitching I look at six key factors: Torque, Momentum, Balance, Posture, Release and Repetition.  

 

Here's a great article Thorburn wrote (I quoted it above) with detailed explanations and videos on each that can help the layman understand:

 

Part One

Part Two

    • Carole Keller, birdwatcher, Oldgoat_MN and 4 others like this

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