JoJo Romero started his college career at the University of Nevada and finished it at Yavapai College, a junior college program that has produced a number of solid major league players, including former Phillies Ken Giles and Curt Schilling. The Phillies grabbed him in the fourth round of last year's draft and sent him to Williamsport for his first season as a pro.
The only true concern about Romero is his size - 6' 0", 190 pounds - which lends concern to just how durable he'll be pitching as a starter. The Phillies will give him every opportunity to stick in the rotation, because he has four quality pitches that he can throw for strikes. Romero actually throws both a two and four-seam fastball, with the two-seamer having good movement and both pitches sitting just north of the 90 mark in velocity, with the four-seam fastball edging into the mid-90s, but not as effective. The two-seam variety has good sink that produces a number of groundballs.
Coming into the draft, Romero's best pitch was his curveball, but last season he showed a lot of development in both his slider and change-up and slider. Coming into his second season, the change-up is the pitch that he relies on in key spots, but the slider is getting better and better. All three of his secondary pitches are good and he can throw them all for strikes.
Against hitters in the New York - Penn League, Romero struck out 6.11 batters per nine innings, compared to the 7.78 per nine put up by pitchers across the league. While he's under the league average, there isn't much concern about Romero's ability to strike out batters. Instead, he relies on good command and keeps the ball down in the zone, resulting in a high percentage of groundballs. Romero got just under twice as many outs on groundballs than he did on flyballs, so the numbers are strong, and point to a potentially high success rate if he would be moved to the bullpen.
While Romero is very young with a small professional sample, he projects as a back of the rotation starter as long as he can maintain durability and show that he can not only pitch deep into ballgames, but can do it over a long season. With his first shot at a full-season league this year at Lakewood, he'll get a better opportunity to show that he can do both of those things. He will be helped a little by the fact that the BlueClaws have a six-man rotation to open the season. With Williamsport, Romero got stronger as the NYPL season went on. He went at least five innings in each of his last seven starts and went six innings in three of them. In his first three starts combined, Romero threw 7 2/3 innings bringing down his season average.
|Romero vs NYPL Averages||ERA||WHIP||H/9||HR/9||BB%||KO%||K0/BB||WP/9||*URA|
|New York-Penn League||3.41||1.28||8.21||0.39||8.6%||20.2%||2.35||0.91||0.73|
*URA = Unearned Run Average, which shows how a pitcher's performance was affected by his defense.