The Undercards: Enny Romero Sharp in Triple-A Return
By Robbie Knopf
Erasmo Ramirez is lined up to get the first crack at the rotation spot vacated by Drew Smyly, but it would be nice for the Tampa Bay Rays to find a more exciting choice. Matt Andriese could be a good pitcher once he gets in his return while Andrew Bellatti had a nice big league debut, but Enny Romero may be the pitcher to watch. The former top prospect has returned to Triple-A following a back injury and easily has the most upside of the Rays’ options.
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Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Syracuse Chiefs (WSN) 1
Enny Romero’s first game back for the Bulls could not have gone much better. He tossed 5 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. Romero walked 4 in 6.2 innings in his rehab starts at High-A, but his control was on point in this game and there was not much that Syracuse hitters could do. Romero showed signs of a calmer delivery that would allow him to throw more strikes in spring training, and while it isn’t a good sign that he hurt his back soon afterwards, improved command could make all the difference for him. He has always had the stuff, and the question has always been whether he knows where it’s going.
It is uncertain whether Romero would be a better starting option than the other pitchers the Rays have, especially given that he is just getting back from his injury. Even so, Romero has the ability to help the Rays in some capacity, whether it is starting or replacing Xavier Cedeno in the lefty relieve roler. It is unlikely that the Rays would call up Romero to be a lefty one-out guy, but if they see as a potential multi-inning reliever like Wade Davis in 2012 or Alex Torres in 2013, a promotion would make a lot of sense.
Jhan Marinez followed with a nice outing of his own, going 3.1 innings allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1. On the offensive side, meanwhile, Nick Franklin went 0 for 3 in his rehab game at shortstop, but the Bulls received home runs from Mikie Mahtook, Allan Dykstra, and J.P. Arencibia. Dykstra went 1 for 2 with 2 walks in the game as he escaped his funk since returning to the Bulls. He was just 2 for his first 32, although he did draw 8 walks.
Double-A Southern League: Birmingham Barons (CHW) 10, Montgomery Biscuits 4
The Biscuits were down 5-0 after the top of the first inning, and that set the tone for the game. Bradin Hagens did manage to last 5 innings allowing 7 runs to save the Biscuits’ bullpen. The relievers who pitched behind him had some troubles of their own, although Colton Reavis did toss a perfect inning to finish the game.
The Montgomery offense did come up with four runs on a Richie Shaffer RBI double, a Tyler Goeddel RBI single, and a Cameron Seitzer 2-run double. Goeddel has cooled off since his scorching start, but he went 1 for 3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored in this game, and the hope is that he can get going again. Other strong performances came from Boog Powell, who is hitting .342 after his 2 for 4 day with a walk and a run scored, and Jake DePew, who went 2 for 4 with a double.
Powell comes with his disclaimers, particularly his lack of power and struggles stealing bases, but at a certain point, we have to look past that. He hit .343 in his breakout 2014, and now his average is at the exact same number to go along with a .431 on-base percentage. He continues to stand out even after the Rays aggressively promoted him to Double-A. Powell will hope to round out his game, but for now, the Rays will be happy with his incredible plate approach and see how far it can take him.
Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Looking Back at the Better-Than-Expected April