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Nick Romero: It happened one summer
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
By Jim Ecker
April 15, 2009
Nick Romero was a fine baseball player as a young teenager in southern California, a switch-hitting shortstop with a good head for the game, but it's not like he was a household name. There were hundreds of guys in California and around the country with similar prospects.
Then came the summer of 2004. He was 16 when that summer began, and he was a hot prospect when it ended.
"When I was going into my junior year in high school, I don't think a lot of people knew who I was," Romero said last week. "Then I went to one of those showcases."
He was talking about a Perfect Game showcase.
"I didn't really know what it was about," he said. "I think I went to a Perfect Game Sunshine West Showcase, and they put me as the No.1 prospect. And from there I went to the National Showcase, and from there I went to the Alfac All-American game. And this all happened in the course of one summer."
Romero is from Chula Vista, Calif., just a 10-minute drive from downtown San Diego. He was on San Diego State's radar before that eventful summer of 2004 began, but he was on everyone's radar screen by the time it was over.
"By the time he finished that summer, we were blown up by every major college in the country," said his father, Ed Romero. "That's a real tribute to Perfect Game."
Ed Romero, an assistant baseball coach at Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, helps run the PG showcases in San Diego and Mesa, Ariz., so it's been a family affair for father and son. "Every time there's a showcase out here in southern California or Arizona, I volunteer my time," he said, happy to help.
Nick Romero was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 41st round of the 2005 amateur draft as a high school senior, but stayed true to San Diego State and played for Tony Gwynn and the Aztecs for three years. He was picked by the Minnesota Twins in the fifth round of the 2008 draft after his junior year at San Diego State and turned pro, hitting .274 with six homers and 32 RBIs in 48 games for Elizabethton in the Rookie Appalachian League last summer.
He's a third baseman and shortstop for the Belot Snappers in the Midwest League this year. He's still a switch-hitter, with a crisp, level swing from both sides of the plate, and thinks being a switch-hitter gives him an advantage in pro ball.
"Absolutely," he said after a round of batting practice at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "There's no way I'm standing in lefty-lefty on a curveball."
Romero's father got him started as a switch-hitter when Nick was 13.
"We messed around with it when I was little and it kind of stuck," he said. "It's tough at first. It's kind of frustrating. But my dad made me stick with it and it paid off."
Those Perfect Game events during the summer of 2004 paid off, too.
"It's a confidence boost when you're able to get your name out there and see yourself ranked against other people," he said. "But, as a ballplayer you kind of have the mentality that you're good already. You can't go out there thinking you're not going to do well. But it definitely was a confidence boost, being able to be ranked."
Romero thinks he's making steady progress in the minor leagues.
"So far, so good," he said. "I'm getting ready for this long season."
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