- Full name Salvatore J. Romano
- Born 10/12/1993 in Syosset, NY
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 255 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Southington
- Debut 04/16/2017
Drafted in the 23rd round (715th overall) by the Cincinnati Reds in 2011 (signed for $450,000).
View Draft ReportAfter back-to-back down years in the high school ranks, Lower New England offers a solid crop this year, though it's not comparable to 2008's banner class. This year's headliner is Tennessee recruit Sal Romano, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound righty from Southington (Conn.) HS, the same school that produced Carl Pavano, who scouts say Romano resembles. Romano broke his jaw in two places on a comebacker to the mound last July and had to have it wired shut for six weeks, which kept him off the mound for a significant portion of the showcase season. He came back with a solid senior year, drawing scouts' attention for his low-90s fastball and projection--he's just 17 and wears a size 16 shoe. He has an average curveball and shows feel for a changeup. Romano has a herky-jerky delivery and a crude arm action that will need refinement, but he should get taken in the top 10 rounds.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Reds spent $450,000 to lure Romano from a Tennessee commitment as a 23rd-round pick in 2011. As he has filled out his 6-foot-4 frame, he has improved his consistency and stuff and in 2016 at Double-A Pensacola bounced back from a slow start to record strikeout (8.3) and walk (2.0) rates per nine innings that ranked among the best in the Southern League. Romano has started all but one game in his pro career, but scouts project him to the bullpen as a future lock-down closer. This despite his thick frame that suggests durability and above-average control required of starters. Romano's plus 93-98 mph fastball with boring action could top 100 out of the bullpen, and it pairs well with a plus 85-89 mph slider with late tilt. His below-average changeup is too firm and lacks deception, but scouts love Romano's competitiveness, his willingness to throw inside and his high-energy demeanor. Romano is ready to move to Triple-A Louisville as a starter, but a move to the bullpen still looms. As one scout put it, he needs to focus less on missing bats and more on breaking them with his shot-put of a sinker.
A 23rd-round pick who received a well above-slot bonus ($450,000) to turn down Tennessee for pro ball, Romano has lived up to expectations as a big, fresharmed Northeastern pitcher with room to grow. His fastball just keeps getting better and better, and the once low-90s fastball has now touched 99 mph. He can carry 96 deep into games. Romano can elevate out of the zone with a 95-99 mph four-seam fastball, but he's at his best when he's throwing a 93-95 two-seamer with turbo sink. He got away from that approach in a late-season promotion to Double-A Pensacola, staying up in the zone too often and getting shelled. He also learned that he has to locate his secondary offerings better. Romano sometimes shelved his power curve for a harder, slurvy slider that is a less impressive, less consistent and more hittable pitch. The Reds have stressed to him the importance of throwing the power, low-80s, downward-breaking curveball more often. He needs to improve the ability to throw his breaking balls for strikes, which can also be said for his improving, but still inconsistent, changeup. Romano has the durability and stuff to be a No. 4 starter, but his high-energy approach and velocity would also allow him to move quickly as a high-leverage reliever or closer.
Romano had to catch up to the speed of pro competition, but in 2014 the righthander showed signs that he's doing just that. He made big strides with his control by keeping his lower half in sync in his delivery more consistently. While his massive frame doesn't leave room for projection, Romano can run his four-seamer up to 97 mph, but he pitches best when he's pounding the bottom of the zone with 91-94 sinking two-seamers. His power curveball flashes plus and would be even more effective if he landed it for a strike more often. To remain a starter, Romano must improve his well below-average changeup and continue to hone his control. Romano's two-pitch mix may eventually relegate him to the pen, but he could end up a No. 4 or 5 starter. Up next: high Class A Daytona in 2015.
Romano has spent his pro career trying to catch up. The Connecticut native, like many Northeastern pitchers, had fewer innings under his belt when he signed with the Reds for $450,000. His delivery also has him playing catch up, as Romano's tendency to break his hands late leaves his arm trailing behind his lower half, forcing him to hurry his arm to get it to his release point on time. That has led to problems locating his stuff. Romano needs to firm up his big frame and clean up his delivery, but at his best he can pound the zone with a 90-93 mph fastball that has excellent downhill plane and good life. He also throws a promising curveball that could end up as an average pitch. His changeup is much too firm currently, which helps explain why lefties hit .318/.397/.453 against him at low Class A Dayton in 2013. Romano's big frame and strong legs are what scouts look for in a durable pitcher who can eat innings. He made every scheduled start in 2013, and he will look to do the same at high Class A Bakersfield in 2014.
In most years, scouts don't have a lot of reasons to scour Connecticut high schools for talent. Romano, a Tennessee signee who was flashing a low-90s fastball as a 17-year-old senior, brought them to Southington in 2011, however. He had missed much of the high school showcase circuit after his jaw was broken on a comebacker to the mound, but Cincinnati saw enough during his senior year to sign him for $450,000. As would be expected with a 6-foot-5 Northeast pitcher, Romano is quite raw. Like many tall pitchers, his coordination hasn't caught up to his height yet. He doesn't always repeat his delivery, and he has to work on getting his upper half and lower half to work together, but he fires 92-94 mph fastballs with sink that are hard to get into the air. He gave up one homer in 286 plate appearances last season. His curveball and changeup both project to be average pitches or better. Despite his delivery issues, Romano throws enough strikes; he just needs to continue to improve his command. Depending on how he pitches in spring training he could make his full-season debut in low Class A in 2013.
Background: The Reds knew patience would be required when they spent $450,000 to lure Romano from a Tennessee commitment as a 23rd-round pick in 2011. As he has filled out his 6-foot-4 frame, he has improved his consistency and stuff. In 2016 at Double-A Pensacola he bounced back from a slow start to record a 3.52 ERA with strikeout (8.3) and walk (2.0) rates per nine innings that ranked among the best in the Southern League. Scouting Report: Romano has started all but one game in his pro career, but scouts project him as a future lock-down closer in part because they believe his stuff and his makeup are well suited to the role. His thick frame that suggests durability and above-average control required of starters. Romano's plus 93-98 mph fastball with boring action could top 100 out of the bullpen, and it pairs well with a plus 85-89 mph slider with late tilt. His below-average changeup is too firm and lacks deception. If he's going to remain a starter, it needs to improve, though he held lefthanded hitters to a .662 OPS in 2016 thanks in part to his his willingness to throw inside. Scouts like his competitiveness and high-energy demeanor.
The Future: Romano is ready to move to Triple-A Louisville as a starter, but a move to the bullpen still looms. As one scout put it, he needs to focus less on missing bats and more on breaking them with his shot-put of a sinker.