by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all knew that the Reds’ rotation would be fluid this season, and an injury to Rookie Davis has already caused some change. The team has announced that Sal Romano will make his MLB debut on Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers. He had gotten off to a strong start at Triple-A (1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 8 K, 1 BB over 13.0 IP), but can he carry that into the big leagues? Let’s take a look:
Preseason – Not Ranked
Throws – Right-Handed
Age – 23
The Reds have accumulated some impressive pitching prospects, including Amir Garrett who is already showing his upside in the Majors. While Romano does have some potential, which he showed with the improvements in his strikeout and walk rates in ’16, we shouldn’t confuse him with Garrett (or a similar upper level prospect). MLB.com recently described his repertoire by saying:
“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 threw a lot more strikes in 2016 than he had.”
You would think that type of arsenal would play fairly well, and he has done a good job overall in generating groundballs (1.56 GO/AO). However he has been trending in the wrong direction:
- 2015 (High-A/Double-A) – 1.78
- 2016 (Double-A) – 1.17
- 2017 (Triple-A) – 0.93
The 2017 mark is an extremely small sample size, though it is something to monitor. You also have to wonder if he can maintain the strikeout/walk rates at the upper levels (career marks of 7.3/2.9) and his conditioning has always been a question (he’s listed at 6’5” and 270 pounds). That’s a lot of questions to try and answer, especially when you are going to be calling a hitter’s park home.
Considering his experience level and the risks involved it may not be a long stay in the Majors this time around. Keep an eye on him, but don’t be surprised if there are a few bumps from the outset.
Current Grade – C+
Upside Grade – B-
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference