Romo raises stakes as PGAA

Photo: Drew Romo (Perfect Game)

Cory Van Dyke
Published: Thursday, August 1, 2019

Drew Romo still reminisces on his first time catching in tee ball.

In that game, Romo recalls the impressive diving catch he made. Now all these years later, one look back unearths what was an omen for Romo’s future ahead.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound 17 year old is now ranked as the No. 10 overall player in the 2020 class. Since those early days of tee ball, Romo has intentionally inflicted himself to the punishment and the grind that comes with being a catcher. It takes a special breed to do that.

Romo is that breed and he’s the No. 1 prep catcher in the nation.

“It’s a tough position,” Romo said. “Not a lot of people want to do it. I take it as a challenge and it’s a really fun position. You have to stay engaged every single pitch. 

“You have to be ready back there, you have to help out your pitcher, you have to take command of the game… You have to be a leader behind the plate, and it takes a really special person to be a catcher.”

Romo encapsulates all of those qualities, and it’s why he was selected to compete in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego on August 11. It’s the fulfillment of a goal that was the byproduct of years of blood, sweat and tears.

“I’ve been watching the All-American Classic for years now,” Romo said. “Now that the time has come for me to play in it, it’s definitely a weird feeling. Playing in it is definitely an honor and definitely something that I’ve worked hard for all these years. All the hard work has paid off.”

The main person who’s seen the whole picture of Romo’s efforts is his father, Chris. He beams with pride when talking about Drew and the satisfaction he must feel to see his commitment rewarded.

Romo’s proficiencies behind the plate date back to the reps he’s had at other positions, according to Chris.

“Even at a younger age he played multiple positions,” Chris said. “He played middle infield up until freshman year of high school… He’s got the middle infield base in terms of quickness and soft hands and quick transfer and that sort of thing.”

While Romo played these other positions that were integral in his development, it was always the challenge behind the plate that provided the highest upside. It’s resulted in years of receiving, blocking, transfer, and arm strength drills that have been scripted by the elder Romo.

“As he gravitated toward catching as he got into 10 or 11 years old, that’s when I started doing more research on catching and getting a lot of catching drills,” Chris said. “We set up our own program that we’ve been using for the last couple years… It’s been a wide variety of drills and different things we’ve done to get him to this stage.”

Countless drills have morphed Romo into an elite defensive catcher. It’s yielded The Woodlands, Texas native the best pop time of all catchers at the recent Perfect Game National Showcase. Romo popped a 1.76 in the catcher drills, and he consistently sits 1.94-1.98 in game situations. 

In addition to shutting down the running game, Romo controls the game behind the plate and makes any pitcher comfortable no matter the scenario.

“Being a catcher, your defense has to be your strongest part of the game,” Romo said. “Offense will come. If you have good hitting abilities that’s a bonus, but defense comes first. 

“My dad helps me the most with catching. We take those drills and we do them ourselves. We do a lot of catching workouts… I really think all the hard work I’ve done with my catching has helped me with my abilities.”

While his defensive skills have always stood head and shoulders above the rest of his game, Romo’s hitting ability isn’t far behind. Romo offers a smooth approach from both sides of the plate as a switch hitter.

That process of perfecting two swings began when he was 8 years old. Chris bought a SwingAway trainer for Drew and had him start to swing lefthanded in the backyard despite his natural righthanded swing.

“I’ve been doing that as long as I can remember,” Romo said. “He used to tell me to do as many swings from the left side as I do from the right side.”

Romo was diligent in his pursuit of polishing that lefthanded swing. Now, it’s brought about a stroke that Romo models after 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich. 

“That was a big thing for him to commit to doing,” Chris said. “Once he did that, he’s been a pure switch hitter since about 10 or 11.”

It’s just another quality that proves Romo is truly uncommon. LSU was quick to notice a special player like Romo and it’s part of the reason why Romo committed to play his college ball in Baton Rouge. He points back to a regional game in 2017 at Alex Box Stadium where he knew LSU was the right choice for him.

“I took a visit out to LSU for one of their regional games against Southeastern Louisiana, and the atmosphere was just crazy,” Romo said. “It was sold out. I had standing room only tickets. It was packed and the noise was so loud. It really is an electric atmosphere, and it’s the best atmosphere I’ve experienced at a college baseball game.”

The LSU faithful are anxiously waiting to see Romo suit up in the purple in gold, but the MLB may come calling sooner rather than later. A PG scout wrote that Romo is the “rare high school catcher who will get serious first round consideration if everything continues to progress over the next year” after his performance at the National Showcase. 

Romo isn’t worried about those prospects just yet, instead focusing on getting better each day like he’s always done. Wherever his baseball career leads him, he’s just excited to continue playing this game that has molded so much of his life. 

“It’s a special feeling playing baseball at a high level,” Romo said. “The competition is really good and I think that makes it really fun. It’s the hardest game in the world and you’re going to fail a lot. It’s a game of failure. I just like that about it. I like the challenge that comes with it, and I want to be playing on the biggest stage one day. I want to be in front of tens of thousands of fans winning a World Series.”

He’s never backed down or second guessed that dream of becoming a professional baseball player. The talent is undeniable, but Romo’s character shines just as bright as he sees the good he could make out of the potential spotlight as a pro.

“I’ve come to recently realize that you get a big platform being a professional athlete,” Romo said. “You have a lot of fans, and you have a really big impact on little kids. I really like that about the game. Anything I can do to help inspire kids would be something that’s really cool.”

It’s often said that life is not about the destination, but about the journey itself. While that next destination for Romo will be Petco Park, his journey to get to the All-American Classic - one of perseverance, determination, and composure - tells the real story for the star-studded catcher.

“There’s more and more pressure as you get higher and higher up,” Chris said. “He’s handled it really well because he stays really focused. This has been a long process for him. You always hear about the phrase ‘trusting the process.’ We’ve been working at this for many years.”

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