The Minnesota Twins' bullpen took an early hit on Saturday as it was learned that Fernando Romero will miss most if not all of spring training with a visa issue. The right-hander is still expected to pitch in 2020, but the issue may prevent him from competing for a bullpen spot on the opening day roster.
According to MLB.com's Do-Hyoung Park, Romero flew into Atlanta from his native Dominican Republic prior to the Feb. 12 date for pitchers and catchers to report. Once there, he ran into a customs issue and was sent back to submit paperwork for a new visa., thus making him miss the start of camp.
This development is a tough one for Romero, who stumbled hard after being ranked as a top-100 prospect prior to the 2018 season by Baseball Prospectus and MLB Pipeline. After a solid rookie season (3-3, 4.69 ERA), the Twins opted to move him to the bullpen in 2019, but he had difficulties, posting a 7.07 ERA in 14 innings.
Despite the struggles, there is still optimism that the 25-year-old can turn it around as he posted a fastball velocity of 96.6 mph that placed in the 95th percentile among relievers last season.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli believes that some adjustments to help knock down his 7.07 BB/9 ratio have him primed for a much better 2020, but also said there is no timetable for a report date.
"It's definitely disappointing to not have him here in camp," Baldelli said. "He made some very nice adjustments, and we already know what kind of ability he has...We're going to make the best of a situation that's imperfect."