I’d like to preface this by saying this is not my idea. It’s Ben Lindbergh’s idea. Ben, ever the scholarly gentleman, suggested that an avenue for exploring the debut appearances of major league players would be interesting and useful, and I’m certainly one to run with a good idea. With that in mind, and in an open and honest attempt to gain Mr. Lindbergh’s occasional readership, I present to you the first in what I hope to be an ongoing series of posts, beginning with the first three major league debuts for the month of May. Let’s start with the most recent.
May 2: Fernando Romero, RHP, MIN
Fernando Romero is a hard-throwing 23-year-old who pitched 5 ⅔ shutout innings in his first career start against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 2. The 6’0” right-hander from the Dominican Republic was signed by the Twins as an amateur, and is listed in Eric Longenhagen’s 2016 Twins Prospect list as the team’s 7th best prospect. Longenhagen hangs a 60 grade on Romero’s fastball, and, according to FanGraphs, he averaged 96 mph on the pitch in his first start. Longenhagen likes Romero’s slider as an above-average pitch already, with the potential to develop into a plus pitch. He also thinks Romero possesses an average changeup, and sees the potential for Romero to develop above average command and become a mid-rotation starter.
Romero has had an impressive career thus far in the minors, despite a tendency at the higher levels to walk too many batters (3.24/9 in 2017). Most recently, he pitched to a 2.57 ERA/3.72 FIP in 21 innings at AAA, with a similar performance in 125 innings at AA in 2017.
May 1: Mike Soroka, RHP, ATL
Soroka made a splash in his major league debut, throwing six solid innings, striking out five, and walking none. Listed by FanGraphs as the #34 prospect on their Top 100, the 20-year-old righty gets a 55 future grade, with low variance. Kiley McDaniel lists the Canada native and former first-round draft pick as the Braves’ 4th best prospect, with an above-average fastball and slider right now, and the potential to develop an above-average change and above-average command.
Over his four-year minor league career, Soroka has shown a propensity to keep his walks down, and keep runs from scoring. In 22.2 innings at AAA this year, he has struck out better than a batter an inning, and allowed just under two walks per nine, good for a 1.50 ERA and 3.69 FIP. His average fastball velocity in his first start was 93.5.
May 1: Wander Suero, RHP, WAS
The 26-year-old Suero was summoned from AAA Syracuse last Monday, and threw two-thirds of an inning in relief, facing four batters, and giving up four hits. He didn’t record a strikeout, but also didn’t allow a run. The 6’3” Dominican righty has been toiling in the minors since he was 18, and put up decent numbers in 2016 and 2017, most recently pitching to a 1.70 ERA and 2.79 FIP in 42 innings at AAA in 2017, and similar numbers in half as many innings the year before. His average fastball velocity in his debut was 90.7. He threw his fastball 80% of the time. Suero is not mentioned in Eric Longenhagen’s list of top Nationals prospects.
Previous post: Playing Checkers: A Look at the Jake Arrieta Contract