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March 10, 2023 at 8:00 AM

2023 Countdown to Spring Training: Mikey Romero and Bryan Mata

We've made it through the bulk of the offseason and spring training is here! To celebrate the return of baseball, we'll be counting down by posting our scouting reports for the players on our Top 60 three times a week from February 13 until March 15—not coincidentally, the same day the SoxProspects brass arrive in Fort Myers for the start of games in minor league camp. 

#7 Mikey Romero, SS 
2022 Teams: FCL and Salem
Final Stats: 87 PA, .304/.368/.506, 11 XBH, 9.2 BB%, 17.2 K%
2023 Projected Level: Salem

Scouting Report 
Physical Description: Athletic frame with some remaining projection. Not overly physical and could stand to add strength and fill out.

Hit: Starts slightly open with his hands high. Very smooth and controlled swing. Has bat speed. Limited stride. Really good hands. Seen as one of the most advanced high school hitters in the draft class. Good pitch recognition and advanced approach for his age. Makes a lot of contact and hits the ball hard. Potential above-average hit tool.

Power: Wide range of opinions on his power ability. Needs to add strength and swing right now is designed more for hard line drives than over-the-fence power. Potential fringe-average game power.

Run: Fringe-average speed.

Field: Soft hands and strong instincts at shortstop. Some evaluators think he can stick at short, while others think he profiles best at second base long-term. Will not be a standout defender, but a potential average defender at shortstop.

Arm: Average arm strength.

Career Notes: Played travel ball growing up in Southern California with Red Sox 2021 first-round pick Marcelo Mayer. Played for Team USA. Comes from a very athletic family. Eldest sister Sierra was a star for the University of Michigan softball team and older sister Sydney starred at the University of Oklahoma, and both now play professional softball for Athletes Unlimited. Was originally committed to Arizona, but changed his commitment to LSU to follow head coach Jay Johnson. Was set to participate in the 2022 Fall Performance Program that was cancelled due to Hurricane Ian.

Summation: Potential bat-first middle infielder. Unclear if he can stick at shortstop long-term, but if he hits, has the offensive ability to carry him at either second base or in the outfield. Has one of the most advanced bats in the high school class.

Note: This page will be updated with a complete scouting report after the scouting team has seen the player in person.

#6 Bryan Mata, RHP 
2022 Teams: Salem, Greenville, Portland and Worcester
Final Stats: 83 IP, 2.49 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 105 K, 46 BB, 12% swinging strike rate
2023 Projected Level: Worcester 

Scouting Report 
Physical Description: Tall, sturdy pitcher's frame. Has filled out considerably since signing, especially in his lower half. High waist and long limbs. Has filled out in his upper half as well. Was listed at 160 pounds when he signed. Returned from Tommy John surgery in very good condition.

Mechanics: Throws from a three-quarters arm slot with effort in his delivery. Very quick arm. Starts on the first base side and does not utilize a wind-up, although he had in the past. Deceptive arm action. Somewhat deliberate going back, then whips arm forward. Arm-heavy delivery, does not do a great job incorporating his lower half, but has gotten better at doing so in recent years. Works fast, which can cause his delivery to get out of whack. Could perhaps stand to slow things down a bit. Release point can get inconsistent and he tends to overthrow at times, especially as he works deeper into games and tires. Needs to improve consistency with his delivery. Because of how quick his arm is, it can get out ahead of the rest of his delivery, causing him to constantly yank the ball glove-side.

Fastball: 94-98 mph. Tops out at 100 mph. Pitch sat 96-97 mph in 2020 in shorter outings at the Alternate Training Site and was still sitting there after he returned from Tommy John in 2022. Added significant velocity in 2018; pitch used to sit 90-92, topping out at 94. Throws two variations, a four-seam at 96-98 mph and two-seam at 94-96 mph. Threw primarily four-seam fastballs in outing scouted in 2022. Still learning to harness that velocity and needs to work on command and control. Fastball shows sink down in the zone and some life when elevated, though it is easier to hit than you would expect given its velocity. Too often, he will lose his delivery and release point and his fastball control will suffer as a result. Still struggles to locate arm-side. Has a tendency to yank his fastball glove-side. Potential plus pitch, but a lot depends on how his command develops.

Slider: 86-90 mph. Added pitch coming into Spring Training 2019. Initially, pitch was longer and looked like a slider at lower velocities and more like cutter when thrown harder. In 2020 looks, pitch had become a more defined slider with sharp, late break. Has really taken to the pitch and improved his feel and confidence in it as he has used it more. Pitch gives him another weapon to throw at hitters in a new velocity band. Pitch will flash plus potential with depth, but has not constantly snapped off in return from Tommy John and the pitch has shown the tendency to roll to the plate. Potential solid-average offering if he can find more consistency with it.

Curveball: 77-79 mph. 11-to-5 break and two-plane movement. When he snaps it off, pitch will show depth. Can throw pitch in the zone and is comfortable doing so. Will often use to steal a strike early in the count, but has shown the ability to backdoor the pitch to left-handed hitters when ahead in the count as well. Will flash more potential, but lack of consistency pulls down grade. Potential average offering.

Changeup: 87-89 mph. Throws with deceptive arm speed. Velocity has increased from 82-83 mph as fastball velocity increased. Pitch is on the firm side, but feel is improving and pitch shows late fade. Has shown the ability to turn the pitch over down in the zone against left-handed hitters on occasion. Potential average-to-better offering, but that grade is fluid.

Career Notes: Expected to sign with the Brewers in July 2015 at the start of the international signing period, but a groin injury derailed that agreement and he rehabbed the injury on his own before signing with the Red Sox in January 2016 for what was likely a much smaller bonus. Impressed at 2016 Fall Instructional League. Fit description of (and likely was) unnamed player whom Red Sox reportedly declined to include in trade talks during 2016-17 offseason. Started the 2017 season in extended spring training before being promoted to Greenville at the end of May. Was promoted aggressively early in his career: was the youngest player in the South Atlantic League in 2017 and in the Carolina League in both 2018 and 2019. Pitched just once after July 10 in 2018 due to a back injury. Missed a month with shoulder soreness in 2019. Pitched at the Alternate Training Site in 2020, suffering a hamstring injury in late August that caused him to miss his last couple of starts. Participated in the 2020 Fall Instructional League. Suffered a slight UCL tear in March 2021 and underwent Tommy John Surgery on April 13, 2021. Participated in the Fall Performance Program in 2021 as a rehabber. Returned to games on a rehab assignment in June 2022 and returned to Portland and was activated at the end of that month. Participated in 2023 Rookie Development Program.

Summation: Projects as a back end starter or multi-inning relief arm with premium stuff to handle a late inning role if necessary. Ceiling of a mid-rotation starter. Still has a wide range of outcomes as he makes his return from Tommy John surgery. Raw stuff is back, but feel for secondaries and command come and go within outings. Might be able to start, but could be more effective in shorter bursts out of the bullpen. Delivery still has effort and we need to see how his stuff holds up over longer, 5-6-inning stints and when pitching on a consistent starter's schedule. Will show the potential for a true four-pitch mix with two potential plus offerings. Has shown the ability to miss bats with all four pitches at various points in his career. Harnessing command of his arsenal will be key for his development. Injury risk had become a concern even pre-Tommy John surgery, as he last made it through a full season healthy in 2017. Tommy John Surgery in April 2021 clouds future starter profile.

Photo Credit: Mikey Romero and Bryan Mata by Kelly O'Connor.

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.