- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2017

Mike Rizzo explained last weekend that he thought Monday’s Major League Baseball draft was deep in pitching. He confirmed that with the organization’s first-round pick.

The Nationals selected left-handed pitcher Seth Romero from Houston 25th overall. He’s hard-throwing and temperamental. Romero’s fastball is in the mid-90s. He was twice suspended from his college team before finally being kicked off.

Romero was suspended by Houston in 2016. He was again suspended in 2017 for failing a drug test and missing curfew, according to the Houston Chronicle. He was then kicked off the team following an altercation with a teammate shortly after returning from his second suspension.

“There were some question about his off the field,” Rizzo said. “We felt comfortable in the fact we knew his history. Our area scouts and our guys who know him… We expect him to conduct himself with maturity and be a professional and be accountable for his actions. To immerse him in our organization. Our player development guys do a really good job of teaching them the Nationals way. How to conduct themselves on the field, in the clubhouse and in the community and we expect nothing less from Seth in that vain.”

The allure of Romero, 21, that allowed Washington to look by his college transgressions comes from his size — 6 foot 3, 240 pounds — and that he is a left-handed power pitcher. He struck out 85 batters in 48 2/3 innings pitched. Romero finished with a 3.51 ERA in 10 games (seven starts) for Houston this season.

Will Romero be in the big leagues this season?

“It’s never happened to me,” Rizzo said. “I’ve never done anything like that where the drafted player gets to the big leagues the year you draft him. I don’t expect that in this scenario. We’re going to develop him at his own pace.”

Also of note: Romero is represented by agent Scott Boras, who has an intimate relationship with the Nationals.

The Nationals also find themselves in a rather sudden spot of needing more starting pitching in their farm system. An offseason trade of top prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez quickly thinned Washington’s pitching prospect depth. Current top prospect Erick Fedde was recently moved to the bullpen at Double-A Harrisburg, in part to prepare him for possible late-season usage in the big leagues and to limit his innings this season. At Triple-A Syracuse, options are limited. A.J. Cole (5.32 ERA), Austin Voth (6.16 ERA) and Kyle McGowin (5.98 ERA) are struggling. 

Washington selected right-handed pitcher Wil Crowe with the 65th overall pick.

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