Ricky Romero Rebuilding Recap: Solid outing for the Dunedin Blue Jays

USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Romero goes 7 innings, giving up just 1 run on 5 hits for the Dunedin Blue Jays in the Florida State League. He walked no one and struck out 4. He maintained a good delivery throughout the game, worked quickly, and came out of the game on a positive note.

Down in an overcast Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida, the Dunedin Blue Jays' newest pitcher took to the mound for his season debut against the Brevard County Manatees, the Milwaukee Brewers' A-Advanced affiliate. Wearing a blue #24 on his grey jersey was 28-year old Ricky Romero, someone who looks a bit out of place among a field of early-to-mid-twenty year olds. He made his warm-up pitches in front of 1,632 fans in the stands, knowing that hundreds of thousands back in Toronto and across Canada are wondering how he will do.

He didn't disappoint.

Even though he has pitched in a couple of intrasquad games in extended spring training, today was his first real game since his final spring training outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates one whole month ago. Hours after the game, the Blue Jays shocked the baseball world by demoting Romero down to Dunedin (it is always shocking to see a team's opening night pitcher one year get sent down all the way to single-A ball the next). The Blue Jays decided to re-work his pitching mechanics during the spring but there was just too much work to do.

Since his demotion, the Blue Jays have tried to keep Romero away from the eyes of the fans and media as he works with roving pitching instructor Dane Johnson, the man the organization tasked to fix their former ace. Even though Romero was officially assigned to the Dunedin Blue Jays roster, he has not attended team games or practices until today. Earlier this month, when Blue Jays from Away spoke with D-Jays broadcaster Tyler Murray, Murray said about the embargo on Romero:

"Not even Darold Knowles, the pitching coach, or [manager] Bobby Meacham know that much, he's very much under wraps."
"He's mostly working out at the [minor league] complex, which is a couple miles away, working mostly behind closed doors with instructional trainers and what not."

The first we saw Romero since March was when he spoke with Sportsnet's Tony Ambrogio. In that video, Romero discussed that he had been working on "finishing his pitches" and other exercises with coach Johnson. That brings us to today.

Romero dominated the Manatees, throwing 7.0 IP, giving up 1 ER on 5 H, striking out 4, and walking none. By my count (which may be off because my radio feed would cut off some times), Romero threw a total of 79 pitches, 50 of them for strikes. He kept the ball on the ground, mostly on softly-hit balls, and every single out he got was either a groundout or a strike out.

The only Manatees to hit a ball hard off of Ricky Romero were Brandon Macias and Dionis Hinojosa. Macias, a 24-year old third baseman playing in his first year in the Florida State League, probably had the most memorable game in his professional career. In his first at bat, he hit a fly ball to left-centre field that fell in for a triple when D-Jays centre fielder Nick Baligod, who was shaded towards right, dove and missed it. In his next at bat, Macias lined a single to left, and in his final at bat lined another single, this time right up the middle. Hinojosa was less lucky: his hard hit line drive was caught by second baseman Jon Berti for a double play, but then did get a single on a line drive to right field in the fifth.

According to Sportsnet's Tony Ambrogio, who attended the game in person, Romero had kept a consistent delivery, hitting 91-92 mph at times. Ambrogio described Romero's mechanics as such:

Romero, speaking with Ambrogio after the game, also said that his delivery was kept consistent, and most importantly, he realized right away when something went wrong. Romero knows that there is still much work to be done, but he was pleased with his command--he didn't walk anyone and was able to be "aggressive in the strike zone."

He was particularly aggressive in the bottom of the sixth when he struck out Gregory Hopkins and Nick Ramirez swinging on what Tyler Murray described as "nasty curves" that starts from high in the strike zone and ends up in the dirt. His strike out against Ramirez in the fourth was probably on a curve, but it was dropped by catcher Pierce Rankin to allow Ramirez to reach first base. His first strikeout came on a 1-2 change-up to Chadwin Stang in the third.

So all in all, it was a good debut for Romero, keeping in mind of course that the Florida State League is very far away from the American League. He certainly did better than when he was sent to face minor leaguers in late spring training. Although Romero left with a 3-1 lead, Scott Gracey gave up two runs in the eighth to tie the game 3-3 and send it to extras and leaving Romero with a no-decision. Toronto's own Marcus Knecht was the hero in extra time, hitting a two-run double in the top of the 10th to win it for Dunedin. Hey--at least one team name Blue Jays won this Saturday.

Now it's back to work to continue Ricky Romero's rebuild. A good, positive step was taken today--I just can't wait until I see him taking that big step out of the dugout and onto the diamond in the Rogers Centre.

Performance Breakdown: Ricky Romero

Plays are from MiLB.com, pitches in innings 1 and 2 were tracked by MjwW (thanks!), pitches in innings 3-7 were tracked by the author, based on the radio broadcast.

Pitch Tracker Key:

B = ball, C = called strike, S = swinging strike, F = foul, P = in play | ’ = fastball, + = change-up, * = curve, (bb) = breaking ball, numbers are pitch speeds based on stadium gun
Pitch types and speeds are recorded only when reported on the radio.

Bottom of the 1st

Chadwin Stang grounds out, shortstop Peter Mooney to first baseman K. Hobson. [B’(90)C’(90)B’BP]

Gregory Hopkins grounds out, third baseman Andy Burns to first baseman K. C. Hobson. [B’P]

Nick Ramirez singles on a ground ball to right fielder Matt Newman. [B’F’(91)FP(bb)]

Cameron Garfield grounds out, third baseman Andy Burns to first baseman K. Hobson. [F’B’S+F+P]

Total pitches-strikes: 16-10

Bottom of the 2nd

Brandon Macias triples (2) on a line drive to left fielder Marcus Knecht. [BP] - It was described as a "flyball" on radio

Rafael Neda grounds out, pitcher Ricky Romero to first baseman K. C. Hobson. [CFP]

Yadiel Rivera reaches on a fielder's choice, fielded by shortstop Peter Mooney. Brandon Macias scores. [B+C’(90)FB*F’P] - Hard-hit ball, good play by Moonie to keep ball in the infield

Dionis Hinojosa lines into a double play, second baseman Jon Berti to first baseman K. C. Hobson. Yadiel Rivera doubled off 1st. [P]

Total pitches-strikes: 12-9

Bottom of the 3rd

John Dishon grounds out, shortstop Peter Mooney to first baseman K. C. Hobson. [C'(88)B'BP]

Chadwin Stang strikes out swinging. [CSB(bb)S+]

Gregory Hopkins grounds out, pitcher Ricky Romero to first baseman K. C. Hobson. [C'P]

Total pitches-strikes: 10-7

Bottom of the 4th

Nick Ramirez strikes out swinging. Nick Ramirez advances to 1st, on a throwing error by catcher Pierce Rankin. [BFS'BS*] - Dropped strike 3

Cameron Garfield grounds out, third baseman Andy Burns to first baseman K. Hobson. Nick Ramirez to 2nd. [BBFS'P]

Brandon Macias singles on a line drive to left fielder Marcus Knecht. Nick Ramirez to 3rd. [B'P(bb)] - The breaking ball was hung up in the zone, line drive passed between SS and 3B.

Rafael Neda grounds into a double play, second baseman Jon Berti to first baseman K. C. Hobson. Brandon Macias out at 2nd. [BB'P]

Total pitches-strikes: 15-8

Bottom of the 5th

Yadiel Rivera grounds out, third baseman Andy Burns to first baseman K. C. Hobson. [F'B]

Dionis Hinojosa singles on a line drive to right fielder Matt Newman. [P] - My feed got cut off right before the single, unsure whether there was a pitch before the in play.

John Dishon grounds into a double play, second baseman Jon Berti to shortstop Peter Mooney to first baseman K. C. Hobson. Dionis Hinojosa out at 2nd. [P] - Again, I lost the feed right before the play, unsure whether there was a pitch before the in play.

Total pitches-strikes: 5-4

Bottom of the 6th

Chadwin Stang grounds out, shortstop Peter Mooney to first baseman K. Hobson. [S'BFBB+P]

Gregory Hopkins strikes out swinging. [C'(91)S*S*] - Nasty curve

Nick Ramirez strikes out swinging, catcher Pierce Rankin to first baseman K. C. Hobson. [CBFS*S] - nasty curve resulting in desperate swing

Total pitches-strikes: 13-9

Bottom of the 7th

Cameron Garfield grounds out, shortstop Peter Mooney to first baseman K. Hobson. [B'SP]

Brandon Macias singles on a line drive to center fielder Nick Baligod. [BB'P] - pitch caught too much of the plate

Rafael Neda grounds out, shortstop Peter Mooney to first baseman K. C. Hobson. Brandon Macias to 2nd. [?P] - One more spot where the stream cut out, unsure whether there was a pitch before the ground out.

Yadiel Rivera grounds out, shortstop Peter Mooney to first baseman K. C. Hobson. [P]

Total pitches-strikes: 8-3

TOTAL PITCHES-STRIKES: 79-50.

Miscellany:

# of pitches in PA

# PA

1

5

2

5

3

5

4

3

5

5

6

2

PLATE APPEARANCES

Out

Reached Base

Groundball

14

2

Line drive

1

3

Flyball

0

1

Strikeout

3

1*

*dropped third strike

  • Romero faced 25 batters
  • He reached a 3-ball count twice, he reached a 2-strike count 10 times
  • Three double plays behind Romero
X
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