Every once in awhile a unique opportunity comes along for one of our writers here at the FanSided Network and within our MLB Division, a chance to interview some of the well-known and lesser-known players across the Major and Minor Leagues. Recently Michael Natelli – a Staff Writer at our Washington Nationals site, District on Deck, and one of the youngest writers here at FanSided MLB – had such an opportunity to speak with a 2012 Draft Pick. The Miami Marlins selected shortstop Avery Romero out of Pedro Menendez High School in St. Augustine, Florida last June, in the 3rd Round. Romero would end up forgoing a commitment to attend the University of Florida to sign with the Marlins and begin his professional career.
Romero got his start with the Marlins’ Gulf Coast League affiliate, appearing in 33 games and receiving 139 plate appearances. He’d hit .223/.309/.347 in that span, adding 3 HR and 15 RBI while striking out twice for every walk. He’d eventually earn a promotion up to the team’s Low-A affiliate in Jamestown, batting .381/.458/.381 in 25 plate appearances over 7 games. A shortstop in high school, Romero spent most of his time split between second and third base.
MLB.com recently ranked Romero as the 12th best prospect in the Marlins minor league system. ESPN.com’s Jason Churchill had Romero as the 8th best middle infield prospect heading into last June’s Draft, writing at the time that his future home defensively remained a question:
Like many prep shortstops, Romero may have to move to second or third base, but the tools are there for his bat to play anywhere. He has a strong arm and average speed, but his hands are soft and his release is quick, though he drops his arm angle a little more than scouts prefer.
Natelli chatted with Romero recently and has been gracious enough to share that conversation with us here at Seedlings to Stars. We’ll let Michael take it from here. Enjoy.
At age 19, Avery Romero has already turned himself from a High School standout to a 3rd Round Draft pick to a Top 15 organizational prospect in just one professional season. Despite early struggles due to the large gap between High School and professional pitching, Romero earned himself a callup to Low-A Jamestown at the end of the season, where he went on a hot streak to finish the year with eight hits, three walks, four RBI, and a stolen base in seven games.
I recently had a chance to chat with Romero and he shared some insight on his decision to sign with the Marlins, his take on the new draft rules, as well as his personal baseball goals moving forward.
Michael Natelli: You chose to sign with the Marlins over going to play college ball at the University of Florida. What went into that decision?
Avery Romero: I think it was important for me because I’m the kind of guy who likes to play everyday. I just think that this route was the best fit for me.
MN: You were drafted in the first year of draft spending restrictions and the new signing deadline. What is your take on both of those changes?
AR: Well, of course, everyone wishes that they could’ve gotten drafted last year (laughs), but, I mean, it worked out [well]. I got to the organization and I think I can move through it pretty quickly. I like the coaches that I got to work with this year, so either way, I’m happy.
MN: Do you think that it ultimately hurt the value of your individual contract?
AR: I knew that the money wasn’t given out like it was in years past, especially in later rounds, but I think it lets teams get players that they really, really like which I think works out for the players in the long run because there’s less players to go through because of spending limits. We’ll see what happens in the next couple of years.
MN: Your negotiations with the Marlins went down to five seconds before the deadline. How prepared were you to walk away and go to Florida?
AR: Either way I was going to be happy with my decision because if I was going to Florida the program speaks for itself. But I’m glad it worked out the way it did so I could get into the organization to start playing.
MN: How were negotiations between your party and the Marlins? Was there ever a point where you thought you wouldn’t sign?
AR: For a while there, [yes], it got pretty interesting towards the end and we really didn’t know what was going to happen or what the Marlins were going to do, but in the end it worked out for the best I think.
MN: MLB.com’s Marlins Prospects page has you projected to crack the Big Leagues in 2016. Have you made your own timeline for moving up through the minors?
AR: Not exactly a timeline, but I obviously want to do the best I can so I can get there as soon as I can. I guess all I can do is go out there and do my best.
MN: What has your experience been like with the Marlins so far?
AR: In the time I’ve been here with the coaches and the players that I’ve had a chance to work with, all I have to say is positive things. I haven’t had anything negative to say about the organization up until this point.
MN: What goals have you set for the upcoming season?
AR: Get started early and have a good Spring Training and then be consistent with my hitting throughout the year. Just keep getting better.
Romero won’t turn 20 until next May and has a lot of development ahead of him before he potentially reaches the Major Leagues. In all likelihood he’ll begin the 2013 season either back at Jamestown or with a bump to Class-A Greensboro.