Deibinson Romero was an off-season signing that didn’t get much notice, other than the fact that Fangraphs projected him to be the top minor league free agent this past off-season. The early results from Romero have been great with a 1.149 OPS that easily leads the International League. In fact, second place in the league belongs to Steve Lombardozzi, who trails Romero by 158 points.
It would be impressive if Romero kept up his strong season because this isn’t someone that was looking like the best minor league free agent last year, or in the past. He is after all, a 28-year-old with no Major League experience. He also played winter ball in the Dominican this off-season and was seeing sporadic playing time with poor results. Romero has never put up big numbers in the minors, topping out at 11 homers in a season over his nine-year career. His slash line is an average .266/.352/.413 in 873 games and that’s coming from a corner infielder.
He does have a lot of experience though, even if he never played in the Majors. He’s now in his tenth season and has played five seasons of winter ball, where the competition might be AAA-equivalent, but the crowds and pressure to perform there make the experience more intense than you find in the minors. The Pirates also used him in 17 Spring Training games this year, plus the Twins(his only other organization) used him during five different Springs, twice he saw significant time. Romero doesn’t strike out a lot(you’d like to see a little lower with his lack of power numbers) and he draws his shares of walks, so he has some idea of the strike zone and isn’t a free swinger. Basically, you should feel more comfortable using him in big spots than you would an average kid that worked his way up, who is younger and has minimal AAA experience.
So the fast start has to have you wondering just what Fangraphs saw in him and if he really can be a player that helps the Pirates out this year. The second part is probably pretty easy to just dismiss based on the fact he is far down the depth charts. You probably don’t want to see Romero before September because of what that would mean for the big league club.
If Josh Harrison goes down with an injury or has to move to another position to cover for an injured player, you would probably see Jung-Ho Kang or Sean Rodriguez fill in at third base, possibly those two splitting time. There is also the fact that the Pirates have Lombardozzi, or Pedro Florimon or Justin Sellers(who is on rehab now). Those are all players with significant Major League experience. Romero can also play first base, but the Pirates already have a platoon there, so I’d imagine they would just stick with the other player full-time and use Rodriguez or Lambo part-time.
If Romero continues to hit well though, he could turn himself into an option, or he could just end up being this year’s version of Chris Dickerson, who does well in the minors and has no place to play, so he ends up getting traded for the ever popular “player to be named later or cash”, which usually ends up as cash and you never find out about it, and eventually forgetting. Dickerson ended up playing 41 games for the Indians last year after the trade.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Romero. He could end up being traded for his own good, helping another team that doesn’t have the infield depth the Pirates have this year. Possibly he plays well and the Pirates like him enough to give him a September call-up and he sticks around in the system, or he just ends up playing a full season at Indianapolis and signing elsewhere in the off-season. At this point, I’d be surprised if he saw significant time in the Majors this season, but it’s still early in the year and this could finally be his breakout season.
Pirates Game Graph
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Cubs by a 4-3 score on Wednesday night. This afternoon they will try to split the four game series and get back to the .500 mark. Jeff Locke will make his third start of the season and he’s coming off an eight inning performance, in which he gave up just one run to the Milwaukee Brewers.
In the minors, Tyler Glasnow will have to wait to make his third start of the season. Altoona was rained out last night and the Curve have off today. Glasnow is currently listed as the Saturday starter, with Chad Kuhl going Friday night, so check tomorrow’s schedule for any updates. Casey Sadler will make his second start for Indianapolis. He went six innings in his first game and allowed just one run. He also won a game for the Pirates in his first big league start earlier this year. West Virginia will play two games today. No starter has been announced for game two yet. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.
MLB: Pittsburgh (7-8) vs Cubs (8-6) 12:35 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (1.93 ERA, 1:8 BB/SO, 14.0 IP)
Gorkys Hernandez homered on Tuesday. He had two hits on Wednesday afternoon. Hernandez is hitting .304/.407/.413 in 13 games this year.
Willy Garcia drove in a run with a single on Tuesday. He had a couple big games to pick his stats up after a slow start. Garcia is hitting .243/.300/.270 in 11 games. He’s drawn three walks this season, though two of them were intentional. Garcia hasn’t homered yet and he has struck out 14 times in 37 at-bats.
4/22: Francisco Diaz assigned to WV Black Bears roster. Kawika Emsley-Pai added to WV Power roster.
4/21: John Sever assigned to WV Black Bears roster. Jose Regalado added to West Virginia Power roster.
4/20: Justin Sellers assigned to Bradenton on rehab.
4/19: Wilkin Castillo assigned to West Virginia Black Bears
4/19: Pat Ludwig retires.
4/18: Jaff Decker activated from disabled list and optioned to Indianapolis. Adam Miller assigned to WV Black Bears.
4/18: Junior Sosa sent to Bradenton. Barrett Barnes assigned to Extended Spring Training.
4/17: Brad Lincoln assigned to Indianapolis. Andy Vasquez assigned to Altoona.
4/17: Chris Stewart activated from disabled list. Tony Sanchez optioned to Indianapolis.
4/16: Jordan Luplow added to West Virginia Power. Jose Regalado transferred to West Virginia Black Bears.
4/16: Kelson Brown transferred to West Virginia Black Bears.
4/14: Jose Regalado added to West Virginia Power. Erik Forgione assigned to West Virginia Black Bears
4/14: Collin Balester assigned to Altoona.
4/13: Pirates release Jonathan Sandfort.
4/13: Francisco Liriano reinstated from paternity list. Casey Sadler optioned to Indianapolis.
4/12: Chris Stewart assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
4/12: Justin Topa placed on Bradenton disabled list. Matt Benedict assigned to Bradenton from Altoona
4/11: Pedro Florimon clears waivers. Assigned to Indianapolis.
4/11: Stolmy Pimentel claimed off waiver by the Texas Rangers.
This Date in Pirates History
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one that made his only big league appearances in a significant game in Pirates history. Connie Walsh pitched one inning in the Majors, playing his only game on September 16,1907. He pitched in relief of Babe Adams, who was making his first start with the Pirates. Adams went on to win 194 games with the Pirates, the second highest total in team history. Walsh gave up one run on a walk and a hit in his inning. He pitched in the minors until 1914 and managed for three seasons, but never made it back to the Majors. During that Walsh/Adams game, the Pirates lost 5-1 to the St Louis Cardinals. It was the second game of a doubleheader.
Other Pirates players born on this date include: Pitcher Dave Davidson(2007), pitcher Ron Blackburn(1958-59), pitcher Ray Starr(1944-45) and outfielder Bob Ganley(1905-06).