Prospect to Watch: Could The Reds’ Sal Romano Make An Impact In ’17?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Cincinnati Reds have been trying to stockpile young pitching, with names like Amir Garrett and Luis Castillo garnering a lot of attention.  It’s easy to overlook a former 23rd round draft pick back in 2011, Sal Romano, but he’s starting to open some eyes.

The 23-year old righty has slowly been working his way up the ranks, spending all of 2016 at Double-A.  The results certainly justify our attention:

156.0 IP
3.52 ERA
1.22 WHIP
8.31 K/9
1.96 BB/9
1.17 GO/AO

Over his minor league career he owns a 7.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9, so it’s obvious that last season was a significant step in the right direction.  Here’s how MLB.com recently described his repertoire, highlighting the improvements that he’s made:

“He’s always had a good, sinking fastball, thrown in the 93-98 mph range that creates weak contact on the ground consistently. He’s really tightened up his breaking ball and commands it better to the point where it looks like it could be a plus pitch that will continue to miss bats, a hard curve that has some slider action to it. His changeup is still below-average, but he will mix it in. “

He’s primarily utilizing two pitches, which can get the job done in the minors but will he be able to keep opposing hitters off balance in the Majors?  So far it has, including 25 K over 20.0 innings this spring.

It’s a continuation of his development, after he struggled in the first half of ’16 (4.84 ERA) before turning it on in the second (2.43 ERA).  The key is going to be the ability to develop and utilize his changeup, otherwise he could be ticketed for a role in the bullpen where his two-pitch arsenal could be dominant.  That’s not a move that’s going to happen in the short-term, especially with the way he’s presenting himself and three holes to fill in the MLB rotation.  He’s going to get his opportunity, the question is going to be if he can make the most of it.

For now Romano is more of an intriguing spring story, but he has the potential to develop into more than that.  Keep a close eye on him, as when the opportunity comes he could quickly open some eyes.

Current Grade – C+
Upside Grade – B

Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

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