ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays are calling up one of their highly touted prospects to start Sunday afternoon against the Orioles.
Left-hander Enny Romero, 22, will make his Major League debut against Baltimore at Tropicana Field. Romero, MLB.com's No. 5 Rays prospect, went 11-7 with a 2.76 ERA in 27 starts for Double-A Montgomery and finished the Minor League season with one dominant start for Triple-A Durham, tossing eight scoreless innings.
Romero pitched during Durham's run to the International League championship. Now, he'll get a start during Tampa Bay's chase for an American League Wild Card spot.
Rays manager Joe Maddon did not announce a starter following Saturday afternoon's 5-1 win over Baltimore, describing the situation as "fluid." But the team announced Saturday night that it will be Romero, a two-time All-Star Futures Game participant with an electric fastball and a power breaking ball.
Romero's fastball touched 97 mph on the radar gun at this year's Futures Game at Citi Field. He also worked in his breaking ball and changeup and said he'd been working on his cutter for the past year.
At that point, a little more than two months ago, Romero was just hoping for a promotion to Triple-A. He also mentioned that his goal was to make it to the Majors to pitch alongside relievers Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney, fellow Dominican Republic natives.
Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson had been scheduled to make his 31st start of the season, but he threw 41 pitches out of the bullpen and picked up the win during Friday's 18-inning win over the Orioles, the longest game in franchise history.
The recently recalled Jake Odorizzi seemed like he might be set up to start Sunday as well, but the rookie pitched 3 2/3 strong innings in Friday's game. Roberto Hernandez, another possible option, has pitched in relief five times since Sept. 11, including three straight days earlier this week. Furthermore, Hernandez has posted a 4.98 ERA this year as a starter.
Romero is already on the Rays' 40-man roster. Following Friday's game, he tweeted from his @EnnyRomeroTB account, "I could come and pitch tomorrow." As it turns out, he'll get his chance Sunday.