Phillies: JoJo Romero impressive in MLB debut vs. Braves

JoJo Romero #79 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
JoJo Romero #79 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Phillies southpaw JoJo Romero was impressive in his MLB debut against the Braves

Suddenly, the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen has a new look. On Friday, the team acquired three relievers from the American League East division, as well as debuted their No. 15-ranked prospect  — JoJo Romero — in the series opener against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park.

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Romero, 23, may have entered the game with the Phillies down nine runs to the Braves in the bottom of the eighth inning, but his Major League Baseball debut was impressive nonetheless.

The southpaw was tasked with facing right fielder Adam Duvall, third baseman Austin Riley, and second baseman Johan Camargo — who combined up until that point had four runs scored, five hits, and two RBI in the game. Romero struck out all three swinging in order, on just 12 combined pitches. Six of Romero’s nine strikes were swinging strikes.

In striking out the side, Romero is the first Phillies pitcher to strike out each of his first three batters faced while making his MLB debut since JC Ramirez in June 2013, notes Ryan Spaeder. Before that, Angelo LiPetri in April 1956.

The Phillies drafted Romero in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. In 24 combined starts last season between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the Camarillo, California, native went 7-9 with a 5.82 ERA, 92-47 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and 1.554 WHIP across 111 1/3 innings.

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MLB Pipeline writes that Romero has the potential to one day feature a five-pitch repertoire, adding: “While he doesn’t miss bats with his fastball, he can with his above-average changeup and his slider, which he’s worked hard on and displayed a much tighter version of it in the Fall League.”

Romero reached 95 miles per hour in his outing; he is the fourth notable Phillies prospect to debut this season, joining Spencer Howard, Alec Bohm, and Connor Brogdon. For now, Romero appears to be a fixture in the Phillies bullpen, which will soon feature some of their new trade acquisitions. Perhaps this combination can fix the bullpen’s historic worst start to the 2020 season.