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Missing Alex

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Thoughts on what we could be missing out on as we say goodbye to a popular prospect.

As the Twins made room on their 40-man roster for free agent pitcher Ramon Ortiz, they said goodbye to an outfield prospect that had been on everybody's radar over the last two seasons.  For better or for worse, Alex Romero won't see his future come to fruition with the Twins.

It's generally difficult to judge what you have in a prospect, for many reasons.  Translation of good numbers from the minors to the majors, rose-tinted glasses, legions of "prospects" who simply couldn't cut the mustard following a "breakout" season, misinterpretation of or hollow statistics; the list goes on.

Up until last season, Romero had graduated each level of the Twins farm system he went through with relatively positive results.  He didn't show much power in terms of pushing the ball over the fence, but he did show signs of gap power.  Perhaps the most promising sign that Romero could be an effective offensive presence in future years was his low strikeout totals.  In fact, in his tenure in the Minnesota minor league system, his walk-to-strikeout ratio was just shy of 1-to-1.

Last season was supposed to be a big year for Romero.  He'd just come off a .301/.354/.458 year with New Britain and, at 22 heading into 2006, expectations were that he was going to be a part of the Twins outfield in the years to come.  His defense was solid, and he carried enough speed that at times it was whispered that maybe he, and not Denard Span, would be the Twins center fielder of the future.

Unfortunately, Romero's 2006 wasn't as positive as some (particularly those of us in the bloggosphere) had hoped.  After struggling with the Red Wings he was sent back to New Britain, where he hit very well before being brought back up to AAA to end the season.

Alex Romero, OF

Year Level Age   AB    H   2B   BB   SO   Avg   Obp   Slg
2002  Rook  18  186   62   13   29   14  .333  .423  .457
2003     A  19  423  125   16   43   43  .296  .359  .376
2004    A+  20  380  111   21   54   47  .292  .387  .405
2005    AA  21  509  153   31   36   69  .301  .354  .458
2006    AA  22  167   47   11   26   19  .281  .384  .461
2006   AAA  22  236   59    8   15   22  .250  .300  .301
Minors         1901  557  100  203  214  .293  .365  .410

This spring Romero continues his bid for a big league career with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Here are a few, for the time being anonymous, players with fairly similar minor league numbers to Alex Romero.  Could any of them have careers which will end up being a mirror to that of our departed outfielder?

Name         AB   BB   SO   Avg   Obp   Slg
Player A   3115  434  504  .293  .380  .402
Player B   1998  261  332  .289  .377  .411
Player C   2327  245  312  .287  .364  .434
Player D   1857  265  263  .295  .385  .407
Player E   1895  215  349  .293  .368  .436
Romero     1901  203  214  .293  .365  .410

All of them are players you know, some of them are older than others, one was a Twin quite recently and one of them has a career that's just beginning.  Before you cheat and look at the answers below...any guesses?

The career of a prospect is never guaranteed.  Still, similar numbers above have given way to a number of players with at least moderately successful major league careers.  Of course, for five players who "made it" with similar numbers, there are even more who have been lost in the shuffle.  How will things end for Alex Romero?

Player A = Dave Roberts
Player B = Grady Sizemore
Player C = Frank Catalonotto
Player D = Shannon Stewart
Player E = Milton Bradley