WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have not been afraid to take a risk on a talented player, so they did not hesitate when a talented player fell to them in the first round of Monday's MLB Draft.
Washington selected left-hander Seth Romero with the 25th overall pick, a player considered one of the top lefy pitchers in the Draft and a potential top 10 talent. However, he was suspended twice from the University of Houston and ultimately dismissed from the program, which affected his Draft stock.
:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::
And while the Nationals said they expected Romero to be responsible and accountable for the actions that led to his dismissal, they felt comfortable with the selection and that they would be able to immerse him in the organization well.
"I don't see an issue with this kid," Nationals scouting director Kris Kline said.
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Romero was one of the Nationals' two selections on the first day of the Draft, as they also selected right-hander Wil Crowe from the University of South Carolina with the 65th selection in the second round. The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m.
The University of Houston has remained quiet on the details regarding Romero's dismissal, citing multiple violations of university and athletic department policy. According to a report in the Houston Chronicle last month, Romero was suspended for multiple incidents including a failed drug test and breaking curfew. He was also reportedly suspended in 2016 for a lack of effort during conditioning.
"Look, we've all made mistakes in life," Kline said. "I have. It's not like this kid committed a big crime or anything like that. ... I think this kid's learned his lesson, and he's going to go out there and be a very productive big leaguer."
"The stuff plays in the big leagues right now -- big fastball, wipeout breaking ball, good feel for his changeup, a very competitive kid."
And perhaps that was the most enticing part for the Nationals. Romero has the talent -- he struck out 85 batters in 48 2/3 innings with a 3.51 ERA in 10 games (seven starts) for Houston this season. With the Major League bullpen in Washington struggling, some experts believe Romero could be a candidate to make it to the big leagues as a reliever this season. Romero was dismissed from Houston more than two months ago, so he would need to make up for lost time quickly to do so, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.
The Nationals, meanwhile, say they see Romero as a starter. General manager Mike Rizzo says he has never had a player make the Majors in the same year he was drafted, and he says he does not expect it. Still, Rizzo did not rule it out.
"We're going to develop him at his own pace and utilize our strong player development system," Rizzo said. "And hopefully he's a guy for us down the road."