Top Reds Prospects: No. 24

Signability issues caused teams to shy away from Sal Romano in the early rounds of the 2011 draft. The Reds took a shot at him with a signing bonus over slot and landed an early round talent with a mid-round selection. He debuted at the age of 18 at Billings last year and has the physical skills to generate a lot of excitement in the lower development levels in 2013.

The next spot in this list of Reds prospects is a raw pitcher with a ton of upside potential. Sal Romano entered the Cincinnati organization from a 23rd round selection in the 2011 draft out of Southington High School after his 0.35 ERA earned him Connecticut's Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year. The 6'5"/220# right-hander already possesses a mid-90's fastball that he compliments with a curve while working on a change-up. Teams were reluctant to draft him higher because he'd committed to play for the University of Tennessee where he'd already begun summer classes. The Reds addressed that issue by going over slot and signing the seventeen year-old with a $450,000 bonus and a five year contract including $75,000 for a college education.

Last season he threw well enough in extended spring training for the Reds to jump him over the Arizona Rookie League and he made his professional debut alongside 2011 first-rounder Robert Stephenson at Billings. By doing that he followed in the path of another Southington High fire-balling alum, "nasty boy" Rob Dibble. The stat line upon completion of the season was nothing to write home about as he finished with a 5.32 ERA. However, when talking about an eighteen year-old in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League those fifteen appearances can largely be ignored right now.

Romano is among the top of the list of young prospects to keep an eye on as he prepares for his second season in the lower levels of the Cincinnati development system. Now nineteen years old, he's a candidate to do some serious climbing up the Reds list over the next year. As is the norm with young high-ceiling prospects, he is still needs development and therefore retains an element of risk. Still, thanks to the University of Tennessee and willingness to reach in their pocket the Reds got an early round talent with a mid-round investment. He's got the physique and arm to generate a lot of excitement in 2013 and reinforce his projection as a top-rotation pitcher.

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