Enny Romero only needs to look across the Rays’ spring training diamond to see what he hopes his future will be like. He can see Matt Moore, the second-year lefty coming off a rookie year that lost much of its luster from inconsistency but was also permeated with flashes of potential that make everyone know that Moore will be an excellent pitcher and soon. Then he can watch David Price, the dominant left-hander coming off a 2012 season that saw him overpower hitters just about every time out on his way to 20 wins, a 2.56 ERA, and the AL Cy Young Award. Romero, just 22, has the ability to be in Moore’s position at this time in two years and be coming off a promising rookie year for the Rays. In five years, he might have just put it all together and won a Cy Young season of his own. But at this point, the chances of either of those happening are looking bleak. Romero can see his career’s best-case scenario starting him right in the face, mocking him. It’s still possible, it still might happen, but unless something changes drastically this year, it most certainly won’t. However, every time you want to write Romero off and say with conviction that he’ll never reach his potential, he heads to the mound and does something like this.
Maddon, executive VP Andrew Friedman and other team officials watched as LHP prospect Enny Romero, a 22-year-old who pitched last season at Class A Charlotte, showed off his smooth, easy delivery and upper 90s fastball. “It’s definitely high-end stuff,” Maddon said. “He’s got a great arm, a great pitcher’s body. He’s a very, very interesting young man.”‘
In 2012 at High-A Charlotte, Enny Romero could not nearly live up to expectations, going just 5-7 with a 3.93 ERA, a 7.6 K/9, a 5.4 BB/9, and a 0.4 HR/9 in 23 starts, 2 relief appearances, and 126 innings pitched. He certainly had his moments, tossing 7 no-hit innings in one start and striking out 9 in a rain-shortened, complete-game 6-inning 1-hitter. But he also walked 4 or more batters in 10 of his 23 starts, exactly the same number of times he managed a 2-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio in his starts, as control issues plagued him throughout the year. In 2010 at the same age and at the same level, Matt Moore went 6-11 with a 3.36 ERA, a 12.9 K/9, a 3.8 BB/9, and a 0.4 HR/9 in 26 starts and 144.2 innings pitched. What Romero did from 2010 to 2011 was eerily similar to Moore did from 2008 to 2009- he broke out with a huge season at Rookie-level Princeton and then he pitched well but also struggled mightily with control at Low-A Bowling Green. The parallel stretches further when you realize that both Moore and Romero were unheralded signings, with Moore being an 8th round draft pick and Romero not signing out of the Dominican until he was already 17 years old (all the top prospects sign when they’re 16). But there’s no comparison between where Moore was entering 2011 and where Romero is now, and to get back onto even a remotely similar path, Romero has a ton of work to do.
Enny Romero is 6’3″, 165 with plenty of bulking up still on his agenda. And even as his inconsistency makes you lose your mind, you can’t help but be amazed by his pure stuff: a fastball in the low-to-mid-90’s that touches 97 MPH, a curveball that’s devastating at best with big 12-to-6 break, and even a changeup with great sink and run when he has it right. You watch Romero and his smooth, easy delivery, and you can’t help but by reminded of Moore because their arsenals are just so similar. But will his potential turn into reality? Will lightning strike twice for the Rays and two low-profile signings turn into aces in the major leagues? The odds seem negligible- until you see Romero pitch again. But entering his first major league camp, Enny Romero has everything to prove. His career is at a crossroads. Whether he follows the path of Price and Moore or watches his tremendous potential go to waste is hanging in the balance this season and that begins now.