This is an important year for the No. 7 player in Baseball America’s list of the Nationals’ top 10 prospects. Talented left-hander Seth Romero had issues that hampered his career at the University of Houston and slowed his start with the Nats after he was drafted as a first-round pick in 2017.
But as national writer Carlos Collazo notes, there is no denying the potential for the 22-year-old Romero and the Nationals are being patient right now, hoping he can get it right and demonstrate his baseball ability as a pro.
“This was the question with Seth even before he got drafted - there is no secret that he has had number of makeup issues,” Collazo said. “He was suspended from his Houston team multiple times before getting kicked off prior to the draft in his draft year. I mean, getting kicked off your college team when you are one of the best pitchers in the draft class in the entire country is not a good sign. And then, obviously, getting sent home from spring training shortly after starting up with the Nationals is just kind of a continuation that trend.”
The organization suspended him in March for violating club policy, reportedly curfew. Romero, who checks in at 6-foot-3 and 250 lbs., went 0-1 with a 3.91 ERA in seven starts for low Single-A Hagerstown in 2018. The West Columbia, Texas, native struck out 34 batters in 25 1/3 innings.
Now Romero is recovering from Tommy John surgery, so 2019 is a lost season, and the young southpaw can only rehab and prepare for 2020.
“So, you want to see him figure some things out,” Collazo said. “In addition to that, he had to undergo Tommy John surgery this season, so it has been an extremely bumpy road for Romero, both on the field and off the field. I think when he’s been healthy he hasn’t had the results maybe you’d expect, given his stuff, but again you come back to that stuff every time you talk about his repertoire. Scouts are throwing two and most of the time three plus grades on his fastball, slider and changeup. And with a left-handed pitcher, that’s something that is just such a commodity that you kind of have to give him a chance.”
The Nationals are gambling that Romero will get his priorities straight. This entire upcoming season will be a stern test for the left-hander. He must focus on his work with the Nats as a make-or-break occupation. He has the tools to be a very good pro pitcher. He must now bear down and get to work.
“The Nationals are betting on his talent,” Collazo said. “And I have heard that people with the Washington organization are confident that he’s not a bad kid, he just needs to grow up a little bit, needs to mature, and really figure out how to be a professional baseball player and just handle his business. If he does, he’s got pretty solid upside. But he’s delayed now. It’s a long path forward with this Tommy John and we won’t get to find out until some point in 2020 what he’s looking like on the mound. So, we will have to wait and see with him.”
As with left-handed power hitters, lefty starters can give their team a competitive advantage. If the Nats can foster southpaws with lethal stuff, such as Romero, they will reap rewards.