CLEARWATER, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Phillies camp, it was Philadelphia's No. 9 prospect, JoJo Romero.A fourth-round pick in the 2016 Draft out of Yavapai (Ariz.) JC,
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Phillies camp, it was Philadelphia's No. 9 prospect, JoJo Romero.
A fourth-round pick in the 2016 Draft out of Yavapai (Ariz.) JC, Romero impressed that summer during his pro debut and then took off in his first full season, garnering midseason All-Star honors in the Class A South Atlantic League before advancing to Class A Advanced Clearwater in late June. Logging 129 innings and 23 starts across the two levels, the 21-year-old left-hander posted a 10-3 record with a 2.16 ERA, 9.0 strikeouts-per-nine innings and a .223 opponents' average.
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MLB Pipeline: Every site I checked had "JoJo" listed as your first name. Is that truly your first name or nickname?
JoJo Romero: It's Joseph, but in the baseball world, it's JoJo. My grandpa, he's from Mexico, so saying "Joseph" was hard for him, because in Spanish the J's are Y's. So on one of my birthdays -- I think my maybe my fourth or fifth -- he got me a cake with my name on it, spelled "YoYo." That's the real origin.
MLB Pipeline: So you went undrafted out of high school, attended Nevada for one year and then transferred to Yavapai (Ariz.) JC before going to the Phillies in the fourth round in 2016. What happened between high school and pro ball that helped get you to where you are now?
Romero: One of the first things I did after not being drafted was print out a whole list of guys who were that year. I kept that in my locker for inspiration. The Division I level was helpful, but where I really grew was at Yavapai. A lot of the guys there looked up to me because I was a DI guy and had more tools, so they asked me a lot of questions and that helped me to develop into a leader.
MLB Pipeline: Things seemed to click for you in your first full season between Lakewood and Clearwater. What were your takeaways from the year?
Romero: The biggest thing for me was that I was trying to work on developing myself as a pitcher from a professional standpoint. My first season, well half-season, after I was drafted, I think I finished with about 160 innings between college and pro ball. Last year I was able to really work on my craft, which is getting a lot of ground-ball outs, which I succeeded in doing.
MLB Pipeline: Speaking of Lakewood and Clearwater, you were part of some impressive starting rotations at both levels. What was the environment and competitiveness like on those staffs?
Romero: Oh man, it was great. We all pushed each other with the continued success we had, and I think that's the biggest thing about why this organization is so successful. We have so much young talent that does very well, and it creates a competitive drive amongst ourselves.
MLB Pipeline: Is there anything specific you're working on in camp this spring? What are your goals for the 2018 season?
Romero: In camp right now, I'm just working on developing a good routine. I built up a nice innings count in my first full year, so I'm trying to establish a nice routine based off that year and performance that I can take into the next year and hopefully go as far as I can go.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.