School: University of Houston; Class: Junior
Position: LHP; B/T: L/L
Height: 6-3; Weight: 220
Previously Drafted: N/A
Background: Call it immaturity – though stupidity likely should be applied – Romero’s spectacular, perhaps even once-in-a-generation, collegiate career has been repeatedly derailed by school-imposed suspensions: he was suspended at the start of the 2016 season, reportedly due to some questionable conditioning, then the hard-throwing southpaw out of West Columbia, Texas, was shelved at the start of the 2017 season after a picture circulated that showed him holding drug paraphernalia – in a team uniform.
Now the latest – and easily the most damnable – disciplinary action: Cougars Head Coach Todd Whitting, with the full support of the school’s athletic director, kicked the troublesome hurler off the team, despite the fact that Romero was leading the nation in strikeout rate. The reported offense: he got into a fight with a teammate.
As for the production, well, that’s another story. Simply put, it’s been top-notch.
Romero posted a 92-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio to go along with a 1.94 ERA, seven wins, and seven saves in 83.1 innings of work as a true freshman. The 6-foot-3, rotund lefty also threw an additional 6.1 innings for Team USA during that summer as well, fanning nine and walking four. He followed that up with an even more impressive showing during his sophomore year, averaging 10.78 strikeouts and just 2.67 walks per nine innings across 15 games (13 starts).
And despite missing the first part of the 2017 season, Romero came back with a vengeance: he finished his collegiate career with a flourish – or bang, pun intended – by striking out 85 in just 48.2 innings of work.
Projection: Before his idiocy/immaturity wrecked his junior season, and set back his wallet financially, Romero was off to a stellar start. So good, in fact, here’s a list of pitchers to averaged at least 15 K/9 and fewer than 4.0 BB/9 since 2011 (minimum 40 innings): Seth Romero.
Lefties that can offer up a dominant, plus-strikeout ability with even slightly below-average control are worth their respective weight in gold. The Rockies grabbed Kyle Freeland with the eighth overall pick in the 2014 draft and seven selections later the Angels nabbed 6-foot-5, 240-pound southpaw Sean Newcomb with the 15th overall pick – despite both pitching against far inferior talent.
So the fact that Romero has – almost – three years of dominant production against better competition should have guaranteed him a spot in the top few picks of the draft, ignoring his disciplinary issues.
Romero’s control took a tremendous step backwards in 2017, going from around 2.5 BB/9 to nearly 4.0 BB/9. It’s not a red flag, though it may be something he battles in the minors.
So where would I take a supremely gift, self-entitled lefty with the chance to blossom into a bonafide ace?
If I’m a club with a multiple first round picks – like any of the Competitive Balance Round A teams – I take a flier on him. Tampa Bay’s certainly shown in the past that they’re willing to gamble on troubled talent, sometimes it pays off, sometimes if doesn’t.
Ceiling: 4.5-win player
Floor: 0.0-win player
Risk (Pitcher): High
Grade: First/Second Round