Heralded Rockies catching prospect is heating up

September 22nd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Thomas Harding’s Rockies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Rockies invited catcher Drew Romo to Major League camp earlier this season to see how much he could learn and how far his talent (35th overall in the 2020 Draft) could take him.

Romo, who turned 22 on Aug. 29, started slowly at Double-A Hartford as one of the youngest players in the Eastern League, but caught fire during the second week of June. He earned a promotion this week to Triple-A Albuquerque, where he is 4-for-13 (.388) with a triple and three RBIs in three games.

He didn’t make the jump to the Majors, but Romo, the No. 9 Rockies prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has the next-best proposition. Romo is one of seven players from the Rockies system who will play for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. Rosters were announced Friday morning.

“I just want to keep on playing like -- I don't really want to go home,” said Romo, who was drafted from The Woodlands (Texas) High School. “Because I already know what it's gonna be like. It'll be fun for a week or two, and I'm gonna be bored just sitting around.

“I feel so good right now. I'm having so much fun that I want to keep playing. I want to go to the Fall League and be around other good players. I'm really excited for it.”

Romo has shown how much fun he is having with two hits in his Triple-A debut on Monday, an RBI triple on Tuesday and another RBI on Wednesday.

A .197 batting average through June 7 and the usual influx of MLB Draft picks cost Romo his spot in the MLB Pipeline Top 100. He was 84th during Spring Training. But part of the Rockies’ strategy for sending Romo and several of their younger prospects to Double-A was to see how they adjust to challenges. Romo had plenty, defensively and offensively.

Late in Spring Training, he emphasized framing pitches and switched to exclusively a one-knee stance -- a method many baseball folks blast when a ball escapes to the backstop.

“I used to be like that, too,” said Romo, who said he made the change with the blessing of multiple coaches in the system. “I’m very traditional, but my receiving numbers need to be better.”

Offensively, the mechanical change was concentrating on the back hip, which allowed him to use his legs and hit balls harder. Then he had to address poor pitch selection.

From June 8 to his Monday promotion to Albuquerque, Romo slashed .290/.361/.541 with 10 home runs, 32 RBIs, 12 doubles and two triples in 209 plate appearances.

“He’s put together some impressive numbers in terms of hit ability and also power,” Rockies Minor League hitting coordinator Nic Wilson said. “He’s starting to grow into himself and figure out the things he can and can’t do and who he really wants to be.”

Romo emerged with confidence.

“One thing I am surprised about is how long I was able to stay hot at the plate,” Romo said. “Normally, when things start clicking, they only click for so long, then they start to get worse and new problems arise. But I just kept improving, improving as the season went on.”