It was a thrilling moment for left-hander Seth Romero to finally get his first chance to pitch in the major leagues last season. The former University of Houston hurler appeared in three games this season for the Nationals, but a broken right hand ended his campaign prematurely. Romero spent September rehabbing the injury.
In October, he continued his major league rehab at fall instructional league in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Nationals minor league pitching coordinator Brad Holman said Romero rehabbed to the point in October where he was back to pitching bullpen sessions and actually catching the return throws from the catcher with his right hand. This is a big step to getting him back to active play in real games. This rehab started in Fredericksburg, Va., and then continued in South Florida with the rest of the Nats' top pitching prospects.
"It was unfortunate because he had the opportunity to go pitch in the major leagues and that was cut short a little bit by that injury," Holman said. "He really never stopped pitching. He came back down to the alternate site in Fredericksburg and we just had somebody else standing beside him and catching the ball for him. He was able to wear a glove. He was still able to throw bullpens. He just wasn't able to catch the ball.
"When he got into instructional league, he was able to get to the place where he was able to wear a glove and catch balls thrown back to at him. He got some innings there. That was opportunity for him to continue to benefit from a season where some guys didn't get it."
Romero obviously got knocked around a bit with the Nats this season. But now that he got the nerves out of the way and knows what it takes to get through a few outings at the top level, Holman believes the left-hander will shine in his next opportunity come 2021.
"He is in a good place," Holman said. "I expect to see him back up there next year."
* Another left-hander we have kept eyes on is Evan Lee, who took full advantage of the shutdown by staying in shape, working out and listening to what coaches told him to work on from his 2019 season. He throws fastball, curveball, changeup and cutter.
Holman talked about how hard Lee threw during the summer and how different the southpaw looked once he arrived for instructional league work.
"He threw in the pasture and his dad caught him," Holman said. "One of the throws went through the glove and popped his dad in the eye. His dad was OK. That was one of the many stories we got of guys throwing and getting reps in whatever environment they were in because there was a lot of very diverse environments over the pandemic downtime.
"Evan did a great job of putting himself in a great position coming into instructional league. He impressed people. Under the circumstances, for him to be able to actually better his craft, it's a huge compliment to him and it shows the commitment that he has to his career."
The Nats have a few other left-handers they are high on, including Pablo Aldonis, Tim Cate, Matt Cronin, Jose Ferrer, Alfonso Hernandez, Lucas Knowles and Mitchell Parker. We will have updates on a couple of these pitchers as the winter moves along.