8. Drew Romo (278 points, 13 ballots)
When the Rockies took Drew Romo 35th overall out of a Texas high school in the 2020, it represented an investment in the catching position that hadn’t been seen from the team in years. The Rockies hadn’t even taken a catcher in the first three rounds of the draft since Tom Murphy back in 2012, and you have to go back to the 1998 draft for the last time they took a catcher before the 100th pick in the draft (Jeff Winchester). Romo became the highest drafted Rockies catcher ever, just edging out Ben Petrick (38th overall in 1995), which means we’re in territory that hasn’t been explored in quite a while.
Romo, who was noted especially for his defense, signed for full slot money ($2,095,800) and didn’t see any professional action until fall instructs. In MLB.com’s Rockies instructs article, Rockies AGM of Player Development Zach Wilson was quite complimentary of the 19-year-old switch-hitting catcher’s offensive game:
Offensively, I don’t think he got the credit he deserved, this guy can hit and he’s going to hit. He’s showing it already and there’s a lot of projection there, especially in terms of power.
For more on Romo, check out Purple Row’s coverage of his media interview back in June.
Here’s some video of Romo at the 2019 Perfect Game showcase courtesy of 2080 Baseball, where you can see his swing from both sides of the plate and his defensive actions:
Accompanying the above video, here was 2080 Baseball’s Adam McInturff on Romo in August 2019:
Medium frame, compact and very muscular, ideal catcher’s build. Switch-hitter, more batspeed and natural rhythm from LH side; strong base that engages lower half w/ good hip torque; showed patience and a sense of the zone, lots of good ABs, works deep in counts and sees pitches. Advanced raw power, better lift and extension LH; game power from both sides of the plate; hard LH contact all week, HR to pullside hitting RH. Fringy present runner that will slow down as catching takes a toll on his legs; showed instincts on the bases, won’t be a clogger. Standout defensive actions at catcher; potential above-avg glove at premium position; sets low, quiet targets w/ soft hands receiving; vocal leader behind the plate w/ baseball IQ and intangibles well-suited for catching. Above-avg arm w/ strong carry and quick release; aggressive thrower that backpicks runners and impacts the overall running game.
SUMMARY: Excellent catch+throw tools w/ switch-hitting power potential at a valuable position; big league ability on both sides of the ball
A potential Gold Glover, he possesses soft hands, advanced receiving skills and a strong arm with a quick release. He also garners praise for his leadership ability, work ethic and baseball IQ.
Scouts have fewer questions about Romo’s bat after he performed well against quality pitching on the summer showcase circuit, though he didn’t get off to a great start in 2020 before his senior season ended prematurely. A switch-hitter, he has a better swing from the left side but has improved from the right. He’s more contact and on-base than power, but he can become a .260 hitter with 12-15 homers per year while running the bases better than most catchers.
The evaluation is headlined by plus (60) grades on Romo’s arm and field tools, while his hit (50), power (45), and run (40) tools lag behind.
Fangraphs was lower on Romo in the draft process, ranking him 66th as a 40+ FV prospect (which would rank him 8-15 or so in Colorado’s system):
Big-time raw arm strength but takes an extra beat to get out of crouch (pop times between 1.97 and 2.03 at PG National), has strong bodyand pop.
Baseball Prospectus slotted Romo in at the nine spot in their pre-2021 system rank:
One Texas area scout said of Romo that he was the best defensive backstop to come out of high school in the last 20 years. High praise, considering the position has been notoriously difficult to draft and develop without players first going to college. As expected, he receives excellent grades with the glove and the arm while the offensive marks are decidedly behind. There is some thump in the bat, more from the right side as a switch-hitter, as both strokes tend to get slightly disconnected and need greater consistency.
Romo’s deficiencies are correctable, that is the good news. The two hardest skill-sets to master in baseball are switch-hitting and everything that encompasses the catcher position. In trying to do both, he has a very tall task ahead of him.
We’ll see just how confident the Rockies are in Romo when we see his first minor league assignment. Will it be extended spring training, then the new Arizona complex league team for Romo? Or will it be an assignment to Low-A ball right out of the gate?
As Keanan Lamb of BP says above, Romo’s profile a switch-hitting high school catcher is just about as risky a profile as you’re going to find in a prospect. With that said, Romo shows elite defensive traits behind the plate and has good power potential, making him a safer bet than that profile might otherwise indicate. Weighing those data points, I ranked him 9th on my personal ballot as a 40+ FV prospect. I’m excited the Rockies took a risk on a catcher prospect with star potential, let’s see how it works out.