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Loving The Lefties

June 7, 2005
By Larry Millson

The Blue Jays continued to stockpile lefthanded pitching with their top draft choices. This time they took Cal State Fullerton lefthander Ricky Romero as their first pick and the sixth overall.

Last year, they took lefthanded college pitchers David Purcey and Zach Jackson with their first two picks and those two are progressing well in the system,.

Romero, 20, a native of East Los Angeles who helped Cal State-Fullerton win the College World Series last year and while infielders were drafted before and after him general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he wasn't tempted. The only question was whether Romero would be available when it came time to pick.

The Blue Jays took shortstops Russ Adams and Aaron Hill with their No. 1 picks in the 2002 and 2003 drafts respectively and both are playing at the major league level.

"With Adams and Hill already here we wanted to lean more toward the pitching," Ricciardi said. "For us to go out on the free agent and try to get pitching, it's something that's always overpriced. The more we can develop the better off we're going to be."

And the more lefthanders the better.

"Just look around, there just aren't many of them out there," Ricciardi said. "We think we've got three quality ones and hopefully they will be in our rotation at one point."

During his three seasons with the Titans, Romero is 29-9, 3.18 with a 2-0 record in last year's College World Series. He was 3-1, 1.57, last summer with Team USA.

"In addition to all of his physical abilities the thing we like the most is his competitive nature, his will to win, which we kind of think sets him apart," scouting director Jon Lalonde said. "His makeup we believe is that of a winner. In terms of isolating him early and making him a target that was probably the biggest factor."

Romero's father, Ricardo, is a truck driver and his mother, Sandra, is a school bus driver. He has two sisters and a brother.

"My parents are really happy," he said. "It's a dream come true for all of us."

The Blue Jays won't be able to talk contract his until the college season is over but there seems to be little doubt that he will sign soon after. "Never been to Canada," he said. " Looking forward to it though."

He has four pitches with a 90-94 mph fastball--both a two-seamer and a four-seamer-- being his main pitch. He also has a plus curveball that is an out pitch and a plus changeup.

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