The 2015 season ended on a very sour note for Sal Romano after a late season promotion to Double-A Pensacola. The then 22-year-old was able to put that behind him as he entered April and returned to Pensacola to pitch for the Blue Wahoos. His first start was solid, allowing two runs in 5.1 innings with two walks and three strikeouts. It was the next start that was the best of the month, allowing just one run on three hits and striking out seven batters in 5.0 innings. Over the final two starts he was again solid, allowing seven runs in 11.2 innings with four walks and 12 strikeouts. For the month, the right hander posted a 4.09 ERA in 22.0 innings with six walks and 22 strikeouts.
May started out well enough for Sal Romano, allowing two earned runs in 6.0 innings with two walks and eight strikeouts. It was the next start that really drug the month down in the ERA department as he was charged with six earned in just 3.0 innings pitched. He rebounded well, allowing just one earned in 7.0 innings the next time out with a walk and seven strikeouts. The righty finished the month with 28.2 innings pitched, five walks and 33 strikeouts, but his ERA was 4.71.
June was a big step backwards for Romano. He didn’t record an out in the 6th inning of any start and only made it beyond the 5th inning once. In 24.0 innings over five starts he allowed 37 hits and 12 walks to go along with just 15 strikeouts while posting a 5.63 ERA.
After seven days off Sal Romano returned to the mound on July 2nd and put together a solid, but unspectacular start. He allowed three earned runs in 5.0 innings with two walks and five strikeouts. Everything changed after that start, though. The big righty would make five more starts in July and he dominated, allowing just six earned runs in 31.0 innings with four walks and 31 strikeouts. That was good for an ERA of 1.74 and he allowed just 17 hits along the way.
The stretch of dominant outings carried right into August. In the final seven starts of the year Sal Romano pitched 45.1 innings with just five walks and he struck out 38 batters. In that span he posted an ERA of 2.38 and held opposing hitters to a .582 OPS. He pitched into the 7th inning three times in that span and pitched through the 8th in two of those games.
The second half of his season was a big step forward for Romano. Over his last 15 starts of the season he had a 2.49 ERA in 90.1 innings pitched with 16 walks and 79 strikeouts, all while allowing just three home runs. Batters managed just a .553 OPS against him. In the first half of the season his ERA was 4.93 and hitters had a .313/.352/.445 line against him (12 starts, 65.2 innings).
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Sal Romano Scouting Report
Fastball | Romano works with a fastball in the 93-96 MPH range and touches the upper 90’s in most games. The pitch has good sinking action to it as well, helping generate a high groundball rate throughout his career.
Curveball | It’s always been his go-to offering, the pitch sits in the low 80’s and is a power curveball with 12-6 breaking action. It’s an average to slightly above-average offering most of the time, but when he’s on his game it’s consistently above-average.
Change Up | In the past this pitch wouldn’t see much action, but in 2016 the change up really started showing up as Romano found confidence in the pitch. It’s an average to slightly above-average offering.
The improvement of the change up, and the confidence to actually throw it has taken Sal Romano from a starting pitching prospect with potential to a true starting pitching prospect. For his career he had always had good peripherals, but his hit rate (and batting average on balls in play) was very high. Once he found confidence in his change up and began mixing it in, the hit rate dropped off dramatically and his strong peripherals in the walk and strikeout departments stayed very strong.
At 6′ 5″ and 260 lbs, the right hander has the build to eat up innings as a starting pitcher and he could find his way into the Major Leagues at some point in 2017. He should start in Triple-A and he’s already on the 40-man roster. If he’s got to eventually make the move to the bullpen his fastball should play in the upper 90’s and his stuff and control plays very well at the back of a bullpen.