Toronto Blue Jays prospect Jordan Romano made his Triple-A debut on Sunday, leading the Buffalo Bisons to an 11-2 victory in game one of a double-header.
But his stay with the team was short-lived, as he was optioned back to New Hampshire the next day. The Bisons have a crowded rotation, with top prospects Ryan Borucki and Sean Reid-Foley having been recently called up – Romano was the odd man out.
The Markham, Ont. native has excelled in his first season at Double-A posting an 8-0 record, with a 2.04 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 53 innings over nine starts. But if the 25-year old continues to dominate Eastern League hitters, the Jays may have no choice but to call him back to Buffalo or Toronto.
Earlier this year Blue Jays director of player development, Gil Kim spoke highly of the Canadian pitcher.
“Jordan is one of our hardest workers in the organization, he’s one of our best competitors as well and that’s allowed him to make the strides he has in his development,” he said. “He’s got a live, electric arm, he’s got some good life to the fastball and shows a promising slider. He’s committed himself to working on developing the changeup a little bit more.”
Romano was ranked 27th on Toronto’s prospect list, but his success and his hard work have people noticing.
The Blue Jays will likely have several openings in their rotation in 2019, and if Romano continues to perform, he could earn himself an audition in September. With both JA Happ and Marco Estrada being pending free agents and Jaime Garcia having a $10-million team option for 2019, Toronto could have three open rotation spots next season.
Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi recently wrote about Toronto’s rotation struggles, mentioning Romano as one of the pitchers that could get a look in 2018.
The Blue Jays rotation is ranked 26th in team ERA (5.33), and Happ is the only regular starter with a sub-four ERA. And with Marcus Stroman being sidelined since May eighth, the need for internal arms may become more pressing throughout the season.
It has been a long road for Romano, who missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Before the injury he was impressive in Rookie Ball, posting a 2.13 ERA over 28 innings as a relief pitcher. When he returned in June 2016, he was used as a starter for the Lansing Lugnuts.
The 2014 draft pick has never been recognized as an elite prospect despite pitching well at nearly every level in his minor league career. Romano has a 20-8 record, with a 2.70 ERA over parts of four seasons, including a 9-0 record the year.
Complete list of pitchers in baseball with 9 wins this year.
1. RHP Jordan Romano
That is all…
— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) May 27, 2018
Despite his success, Romano was left unprotected by the Blue Jays for the Rule 5 Draft last offseason. Luckily for Toronto, nobody picked up the big righty.
Many scouts believe that Romano could eventually return to the bullpen. With a strong fastball and slider, the development of his curveball will likely determine his future as a starter.
The Blue Jays have not been shy in calling up prospects in 2018. Even if Happ, Estrada, and Garcia stay with the club throughout 2018, there will be opportunities for young Blue Jays pitchers to prove themselves in the majors. Romano may have worked his way on to the club’s shortlist for a September call-up.
(Featured Image: Bare Antolos/Rochester Red Wings)