Today we are focusing on the Minnesota Twins Double-A affiliate, the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Pitcher to Watch: Fernando Romero
After seeing 11 of the Twins top 30 prospects take the mound at some point in 2016, Chattanooga fans are used to good pitching. That trend will continue this year with newcomer Fernando Romero more that likely serving as the ace of the Lookouts staff. The product of San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic spent his first pro season as a member of the Twins Dominican Summer League team at age 17. He was progressing right on track until an elbow injury, and eventually Tommy John surgery, sidelined him for nearly two full seasons in 2014 and 2015. Making a comeback in 2016, he was dominant at both Single-A and Advanced-A posting an overall ERA of 1.89 with a .204 AVG against, and a WHIP that was in the basement at 0.90 in 16 starts. My favorite Romero stat from 2016, he pitched 90 innings with 90 strikeouts and only 15 walks.
The 22 year old has a quick delivery from the stretch and a very consistent three quarter arm slot on all three of his pitches. His repertoire and ability to use each pitch effectively are what have me more excited about him than any other player in the Southern League. He has that “light up the radar gun” fastball that we all love so much and is consistently 95 or higher and hitting triple digits with ease. He has excellent control over his changeup, which you don’t see very often from a guy that has missed nearly two full seasons, and a hard slider that sits in the low to mid 90’s. Romero proved his durability last season when he threw at least 80 pitches in more than half of his starts. Romero is at the top of my list for Southern League pitchers to follow this season.
Romero’s 2016 Stats by Level
Position Player to Watch: Nick Gordon
Chattanooga fans are familiar with the Gordon name as they had the opportunity to watch Nick’s older brother, Dee, for a full season in 2010. The 2014 first round pick out of Olympia High School in Orlando, FL may share the same name as his brother, but he doesn’t possess the same game. I’m not going to compare Nick to Dee because Nick is a special player in his own right. I think he shows extremely high potential at the Shortstop position and there is no doubt in my mind he will be a very effective big leaguer there in the future. Having just turned 21 this offseason, Gordon is on a steady path to the big leagues as he has climbed the organizational ladder all three years of his pro career, this year will make it four. Good defense and a plus arm are just part of Gordon’s game. He is a high contact hitter who is making strides in the slugging department. He has a very nonchalant swing with minimal movement that produces a lot of contact. He is also raved for his approach and discipline at the plate as he does not walk a lot, but does not strike out much either. He has an innate ability to “hit em where they ain’t” which has led to a high BABIP over his career including .353 last season. His speed is often rated as average, but he has had double digit steal every year of his career.
Featured Image Courtesy of: Bryan Green