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Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo on Seth Romero; Tommy John surgery + more

Washington Nationals’ prospect Seth Romero had Tommy John surgery in LA last week, and 11-14 months from now he’ll hopefully be on the mound working his way towards the majors again.

Photo screencap via @Nationals on the Twitter

After watching what would end up being Washington Nationals’ 2017 1st Round pick Seth Romero’s final start of the season before he underwent Tommy John surgery last week in California, 2080 Baseball’s Adam McInturff, who writes about Nationals’ prospects for us here at Federal Baseball, offered the following thoughts on what he saw from Romero on the mound in that start:

“Seth Romero pitched for Hagerstown for the first time in over a month, though his outing was brief. The lefty only needed 29 pitches to get through two scoreless innings, striking out three and allowing one hit. Despite the solid line, it seemed he was on a short pitch count and his stuff looked down from earlier looks this season. Romero’s fastball dipped into the high-80s at times and sat in the 89-to-91 mph range. His slider (78-to-81 mph) and changeup (74-to-77 mph) had the same action I saw in July, but were both similarly lacking in power. It has been a bumpy first full pro season for Romero, who has endured well-documented off-field incidents and missed time due to injury. He didn’t look fully healthy last night, either, and will need to regain the stuff that made him a first-rounder in 2017 to build back some prospect status. I wouldn’t close the door on Romero by any means, but the way he’s finishing 2018 is troubling.”

Romero, 22, had well-publicized behavioral issues which led to the lefty being dismissed from the University of Houston before the Nationals selected him 25th overall in the first round of the 2017 Draft.

He was also sent home from Spring Training this year for violating team policy (or curfews, reportedly), but the southpaw was assigned to the Low-A Hagerstown Suns and he made a total of seven starts, posting a 3.91 ERA, eight walks, 34 Ks, and a .206 BAA.

Romero didn’t start again after that August 16th outing described above, however, and The Sports Capitol’s Todd Dybas reported earlier this week that he had undergone Tommy John surgery.

Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo officially confirmed the reports when he talked about Romero during his weekly visit with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this past Wednesday.

“Out of college obviously he had limited innings, so there wasn’t much of an issue then,” Rizzo explained, “but as the workload progressed in professional baseball, which is often the case ... it became more of an issue and as he threw this year he felt it, and we took him to Los Angeles to see Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache who does a lot of our Tommy John surgeries and he made a recommendation for it and he had the surgery last week and obviously it went according to plan and he’ll start the long road back to recovery from Tommy John surgery. We’ve had great luck with it in the past, so we’re looking forward to a great conclusion and 11-14 months from now Seth should be as good as new and good to go.”

Rizzo added that the injury to the ulnar collateral ligament was a full thickness tear.

[ed. note - “We asked Adam McInturff for his take on what he saw in that last outing and what his thoughts were now that the worst-case scenario was confirmed.”]

“I mentioned Romero didn’t look fully healthy in my recent look, and unfortunately that turned out to be the case,” he said.

“He had the opportunity to establish himself as the best arm in Washington’s farm system this season and didn’t capitalize. It was disappointing that another violation of team rules led to a suspension and missed time early in the year.

“When he returned, the stuff was a grade shorter than where it was before the 2017 Draft.

“Romero is the biggest wildcard in the minor league system, and we’ll likely have to wait until 2020 to see if he’s able to regain the form that made him a first-round pick.”

• Click HERE for the updated pro-style scouting report on Romero from 2080 Baseball.