No. 9: Left-handed pitcher JoJo Romero
Rejoice as the Phillies have finally found left-handed pitching prospects! JoJo Romero is one of four in this top 20, not to mention another in the “names to note” section that will come out after the top 20 is completed. Heading into the year, you probably wouldn’t think Romero would be the one to wind up at the top of the group.
Philadelphia drafted Romero last year in the fourth round from the same junior college that Ken Giles and Curt Schilling attended. He had a strong debut in short-season Williamsport last year and was promoted to Low-A Lakewood, where he was a part of a rotation that featured several of the best arms in Philadelphia’s system.
Romero arguably had the best season of any of those pitchers, posting a 2.16 ERA, 2.76 fielding-independent pitching, 1.085 WHIP, and 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He was promoted from Lakewood to Clearwater midseason and just kept on rolling when he got there. Thanks to his strong season, MLB Pipeline named him Philadelphia’s minor-league pitcher of the year.
Romero’s fastball velocity jumped from his time in college, going from between 89-92 to sitting comfortably in the low-to-mid 90’s, topping out at 96 miles per hour. He pairs that fastball with a curve and changeup that can both be plus pitches along with a slider to mix things up. Paired with good command and a repeatable delivery, and Romero has all the makings of a strong mid-rotation starter.