The Royals and quite a few teams in the first round have an opportunity presented to them this season, a rare one that really has no precedent. What is that opportunity, you ask? Drafting Seth Romero and taking advantage of the situation the talented left-handed pitcher has put himself into.
If you hadn’t heard, the Houston Cougars starter was kicked off his team after previously being suspended. You can read about the reasons for the suspension and more can be found here. Drug use shouldn’t be laughed at, but as a progressive person, I don’t find marijuana use as that serious of a matter. The thing to consider, though, is as a player on a minor league roster, he could be suspended if it was found in his system during a test. For that reason, any team should have their reservations. However for the Royals adding a player with this type of background wouldn’t be the first, as Jeremy Jeffress had been suspended previously for a positive test prior to his acquisition in the Zack Greinke trade. Besides that, there have been players in the organization suspended for various drug suspensions whether they were performance enhancing drugs or mistakes that a player made on prescriptions. They have a familiarity with it, as does probably every team in the major leagues. So what could they do with a player like Romero?
Well first off, let’s talk about Romero’s talent. This is a pitcher who, had everything worked out perfectly, wouldn’t likely be available to the Royals at their 14th pick and definitely not available at their 52nd pick. At the time of his first suspension, he was leading the NCAA in strikeouts and was pushing his stock from a backend first round talent to that of a Top-10 pick. This is a lefty who has a starter profile with a plus-plus slider that is easily one of the top breaking balls in the draft, if not rivaling the best. Combining that pitch with his fastball that works regularly in the mid-90s – and has been clocked up to 97 mph – with a changeup that he didn’t have to use much in college but has shown signs of developing.
This is all from a 6’3 240 lbs frame that should have little to no problem handling the rigors of starting every five days. The control/command profile needs improvement after allowing a 1.36 WHIP last season, but with three solid pitches, Romero is one of the most complete pitchers available in this draft. The worst case scenario for Romero is likely to be a quality seventh or eighth inning reliever, with a best case being a mid-rotation starter with perhaps a slightly better ceiling. Should the Royals still be in the chase in June, then Romero profiles very similarly to that of Brandon Finnegan who the Royals took in the 2014 draft.
Besides adding a talented arm, what does Romero offer to the Royals? His stock has likely slipped, not due to play on the field but because of this suspension, which means the Royals could game the system, knowing that Romero is between a rock and hard place of watching his stock drop into the backend of the first round or even into the supplemental or second round projection. As a team with the 14th pick, the Royals have a draft value of $3.727m associated with that pick. By selecting Romero there, the Royals could agree to a figure in the $2m range or below and use those savings on a player at the 52nd pick and it’s $1.295m value. By pushing that value around, the Royals could easily shove a talented prep player to their pick now that they could pay them in the neighborhood of $3m or more depending on what they paid the picks afterward. Considering Romero’s advisor is Scott Boras, I think the play is with the 14th pick and the savings that it offers there. It’s unlikely that he will fall to the Royals second pick at 52.
It’s all about the buy-in for Romero and what a franchise like the Royals thinks of his character after talking with him. How much heat could they take from their fanbase? Considering they share parking lots and fans with an NFL team that took a player in their draft just over a year ago with a much larger transgression than smoking some pot, I’d doubt they’d take much. Do I expect them to do it? No, I don’t, but it’s definitely something that Lonnie Goldberg and company should consider, being that it gives them a chance to add multiple players of Top 20 draft value in the draft despite having just two picks in the first 52.
Featured photo via d1baseball.com
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