In this ongoing series that will last most of spring training, we’re going to look at each player that will be in Major League camp with the Cincinnati Reds. Each post will have some information on the player. There will be some background information, profiling, projections, and more. To see all of the posts in the series, you can click here. Today we jump further into the 40-man roster, looking at reliever Sal Romano.
Sal Romano’s Background
Acquired: 23rd round draft pick in the 2011 draft.
Born: October 12, 1993
Height/Weight: 6′ 5″ / 255 lbs
Years of MLB Experience: Two.
While Sal Romano was a late-round draft pick, he was not a late-round talent. Before the draft rules were changed, players were selected late and paid high-round bonuses. In 2011 the Reds did that with both Amir Garrett and Sal Romano, landing two top round talents in the 20’s (and paying 2nd/3rd round money). Drafted out of high school he took several years working his way up through the minor leagues as a starting pitcher before reaching the Major Leagues in 2017. He spent all of the 2018 season in Cincinnati with the Reds, splitting time between the rotation and bullpen.
Sal Romano’s 2018 Season
Coming off of a solid 2017 season with Cincinnati where he made 16 starts, Sal Romano won a spot in the rotation to begin 2018. He struggled with his consistency during the season. He remained in the rotation through August 21st, appearing in 26 games and posting a 5.46 ERA with 49 walks, 22 home runs allowed, and 93 strikeouts in 128.2 innings pitched. Romano moved to the bullpen late in the season, though. From August 25th through the end of the season he made 12 appearances out of the bullpen, walking just three batters and striking out 11 across 12.0 innings. In his final game of the year he started and threw 5.0 innings against Pittsburgh. He found more success on the mound as a reliever, in a very small sample size of just 14.1 total innings, than he did in the role as a starting pitcher.
Sal Romano’s Playing History
A late-signing out of the 2011 draft, Sal Romano didn’t get a chance to take the mound during his draft season. In 2012 the 18-year-old joined the Billings Mustangs and made 15 starts where he allowed just 1 home run in 64.1 innings. He moved up to Low-A Dayton the next year and saw his ERA improve, posting a 4.86 mark in 120.1 innings but did see his walk rate jump up. The next season he returned to Dayton and made big improvements, dropping his ERA to 4.12 while dropping his walk rate big time and increasing his strikeout rate.
In the 2015 season he moved up to Advanced-A Daytona where he made 19 starts with the Tortugas. After posting a 3.46 ERA in 104.0 innings he moved up to Pensacola and made 7 starts down the stretch, but struggled as a 21-year-old at the Double-A level. The following season he returned to Pensacola and put together the best season to that point in his career. Romano posted a 3.52 ERA in 156.0 innings, walked just 34 batters and had 144 strikeouts. In 2017 he began the season in Triple-A, making two starts. He then made a spot start on April 16th for the Reds before returning to the minors. He would spend the next two months in Louisville before returning to the Majors where he’s been ever since.
Projecting Sal Romano for 2019
The projections are a bit all over the place. ZiPS is down on Romano more so than Steamer or Marcels are. Two of the systems are marking him as a starter who is going to eat 100+ innings, while Steamer doesn’t see a ton of time on the mound in the Majors – but has the best outlook.
How could Sal Romano fit in Cincinnati in 2019?
If you read the first paragraph you will see that Sal Romano is listed as a reliever. That’s because he was announced by the manager as someone making the transition to the bullpen, at least for the time being. This would seem to lock him into a spot in the bullpen out of the gate on the big league roster. He had some success there last season late in the year. As a reliever last season he averaged nearly 96 MPH and topped out at 98.1 MPH. It will be interesting to see what he can do in a purely relief role from the start of the season – but he just gives the Reds another guy who can get them more than one inning of work.