Brad Mills, Ricky Romero, Scott Richmond: Who Will Be the Odd Man Out?
Going into Spring Training, only three pitchers were guaranteed spots in the rotation: Roy Halladay, Jesse Litsch, and David Purcey.
Many candidates were brought into camp to complete for the last two spots, including Matt Clement, Mike Maroth, Casey Janssen, Brad Mills, Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero, and Canadian Scott Richmond.
Now with just a week left to go until the season begins, just three players remain in the battle for the last two spots.
Ricky Romero was drafted 6th overall by the Jays in 2005. Although he has not shown all that much during his time in the minors, he is in the running because of his good stuff and because not many options remain.
Romero has two types of fastballs, a slider-like cutter and a nasty sinker that drops late. He can change speeds on 12-6 CB and features a sharp slider. He is also very intense on the mound, keeping hitters off-balance.
In 18 innings this spring, Romero is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA, and he has struck out 20 batters with only 11 walks. His last performance (two earned runs in seven innings pitched), may have given him a boost in Cito Gaston's and J.P. Riccardi's books.
Brad Mills was drafted in the fourth round by the Jays in 2007. He is ahead of Romero and Richmond and is likely to win the fourth rotation spot.
Mills is a lefty who throws over the top and has good deception. Mills features a 88-89 mph fastball (high 91 mph), a change-up and a big breaking curveball. Mills' change and curve are major league quality pitches.
His fastball is straight and he tends to throw it up in the zone. Mills' deception and his two quality off-speed pitches make his fastball faster.
In 20 and two-thirds innings this spring, Mills is 2-0 with a 5.23 ERA, and he has struck out 13 batters with eight walks. He struggled in his last performance, but it has not seemed to hurt his chances.
Scott Richmond was signed as a free agent before the 2008 season began. His call-up in July of last year cost him the chance of competing for Team Canada at the Olympics, but it gave him some time in the Majors, which may help him in the long run.
In 13 innings this spring, Richmond is 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA, and he has struck out 13 batters with only two walks. His last outing hurt him a lot as he only lasted four innings.
All in all, I think Richmond's decision to go pitch for team Canada in the World Baseball Classic hurt his chances more then Cito Gaston and J.P. Riccardi are willing to let on.
Mills and Romero have been up and down this spring, but the Jays may want to see how the youngsters perform under pressure.
It will likely come down to the wire, with each pitcher getting one more chance to prove there worth this spring. I do not expect a decision until the next weekend.
I am betting that Romero and Mills will be the ones to take the trip north, with Richmond getting the call as soon as one of them struggles. However, a lot can happen in the course of a week.
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