Throughout the minor league season, I will be writing about a prospect every Monday who has reached the AA level or higher that could be on your fantasy roster by season's end, and what you should know about them. Today's prospect was requested by a Twitter follower of mine last week when I asked for prospects to cover. Stefen Romero has skyrocketed through the Mariners' system on the strength of his bat, but has significant questions about what he will be in the Majors due in part to defensive concerns.
Weight: 220 lbs.
On 40-Man Roster: No
Age as of 5/6/13: 24
Romero went undrafted out of high school, and attended Pima Community College in Arizona for his freshman season before transferring to Oregon State. Romero hit well his sophomore season in 2009, posting a .291/.361/.466 slash line with five home runs, 51 runs batted in, and a 17:32 walk-to-strikeout ratio. For the 2010 season, Romero hit even better, with a slash line of .326/.431/.603 with 13 home runs and 41 runs batted in for the Beavers. The Mariners drafted Romero in the 12th round that season, and signed for a bonus of $100,000.
The Mariners sent him to full-season Low-A Clinton for the 2011 season, where he hit .280/.342/.462 with 16 home runs, 65 runs batted in, and 16 stolen bases while splitting time between second base and third base. He was moved up to High-A to start the 2012 season, and after hitting .357/.391/.581 in the California League, was promoted to AA. He spent the rest of the season in Jackson with a number of the top prospects in the Mariners' system, hitting .347/.392/.620, and finishing with a total of 23 home runs, 101 runs batted in, and 12 stolen bases on the year.
He went to big league camp this year, but missed time due to an oblique injury he suffered on March 8th. He spent five games rehabbing with High Desert in High-A, and has since returned to AAA Tacoma. In seven games so far, he is hitting .367/.406/.600 with a home run, five driven in, and a stolen base. He has been playing left field primarily this year.
The Scouting Report - Scouting reports are gathered from other internet sources and written reports, unless otherwise noted.
Romero isn't a toolsy prospect in the standard mold, as none of his tools are likely to project to an elite or even above-average level. However, he can flat out hit, making solid contact and showing power in game. The scouting reports all seem to point to a player who can provide decent production across the board for fantasy owners, as he does have a little bit of speed to go with that power. In addition, the one thing that seems to stand out from the reports I have read is that his makeup and knowledge of the game are considered excellent, to the point where it helps some of his tools to play above their anticipated level. There are concerns about his defensive profile, as he's not likely to stick at third base, and is more suited for a corner outfield slot.
What's Keeping Him From Contributing Now?
The first thing I always check is their 40-man roster status, simply because it can require another player to be moved or released if they aren't on the roster. Romero isn't on the 40-man, so there's that. The biggest problem for Romero seems to be finding him a place to play on the field that doesn't impact another player. He has been playing the outfield in AAA in part because that could be where he is needed in the Majors, and in part because of concerns about his defense on the infield.
What Could He Do For Fantasy Owners Once He Gets There?
It's pretty clear from the performance thus far that the kid can hit, but there are concerns about whether or not he will translate to show above-average production. Based on what we are seeing so far, I can see a player that hits .280/.330/.450 in the Majors, with the potential for 10-15 home runs and 5-10 stolen bases. There is a little potential for more, but it seems that is probably close to his ceiling.
When Could He Arrive?
At this point, he seems pretty likely to be up at some point during the season, as the Mariners continue to struggle to score runs with any consistency at all. What role that translates into remains to be seen, but they could definitely use his bat.
For more on Romero and the Mariners, check out SBNation's Lookout Landing.
You can follow me on Twitter @jasonsbaseball.