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Rays Righthander Tommy Romero Could Be Next Man Up For Rotation

When the Rays first acquired Tommy Romero from the Mariners in May 2018, the skinny 20-year-old righthander wasn’t much to look at.

“We acquired him in the Seattle trade and remember seeing him in Clinton, Iowa, and watching him compete against our Bowling Green team there,’’ said Kevin Ibach, the Rays' senior director of pro personnel and pro scouting.

“He was one of those pitchers where you look and nothing really stands out, except when you look at how many swings and misses he gets. At the end of the day, you’re like, ‘Wow, this is pretty interesting.’ ‘’

Very much so.

The 24-year-old developed pretty much as the Rays hoped he would when they traded veterans Denard Span and Alex Colome to Seattle for Romero and Andrew Moore.

And now, with the trade of Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman to Minnesota for Nelson Cruz, Romero heads into 2022 as one of the most advanced starting prospects in the Rays' system. He was added to the 40-man roster in November.

“Watching him develop, he challenges hitters in the zone with his fastball. That’s his bread and butter. He’ll lean on that,’’ Ibach said. “It’s got good carry. Hitters will tell you it’s a tough pitch to pick up and a tough pitch to barrel up."

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound righthander struggled when he first moved from Double-A Montgomery to Triple-A Durham in late July. He eventually found his groove and finished strong, going 5-0, 0.50 over his last six starts, allowing 13 hits over 35.1 innings while striking out 47.

His 2.61 ERA ranked 10th in the minor leagues among pitchers with at least 100 innings.

“Tommy got back to doing exactly what he’s had so much success doing, and that’s really pitching off of his fastball and missing bats.’’ Ibach said. “He finished about as strong as any pitcher in our system over the last month of the year and solidified his spot on the roster."


—The Rays were similarly pleased with the development of righthander Tobias Myers, who also worked his way to Triple-A Durham in July 2021. But Myers ended up the odd man out when rosters were set, and was traded to Cleveland for shortstop Junior Caminero.

—Peter Bendix was promoted to general manager, the latest step up since joining the Rays as an intern in 2009. Bendix, who was vice president of baseball development, will get a larger share of the duties of running the big league team on a day-to-day basis under baseball operations president Erik Neander.

—Also promoted to vice presidents, and joining Carlos Rodriguez in working under Bendix and Neander, were Chanda Lawdermilk, who had been director of staff development and recruiting, and Will Cousins, who was director of baseball research and development.

Roansy Contreras Courtesyaltoona

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