Seth Romero didn't waste any time establishing himself in the New York-Penn League.
Making his first start above the complex level, the Nationals' first-round pick tossed three hitless innings, striking out five and walking one, in Class A Short Season Auburn's 7-4 victory over Connecticut on Tuesday at Falcon Park.
Gameday box score
"I was pretty happy with it," Romero said. "I did pretty good, so there is nothing to be angry about. I felt really good, so everything went as planned. I was happy with it. ... I did feel like I was in a rhythm."
The Nationals' No. 5 prospect features a fastball and slider that each rate a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale, according to MLB Pipeline, and his changeup comes in at 55. Having been suspended twice in his two most recent college seasons, Romero was removed from the University of Houston baseball team in May but not before he struck out 85 over 48 2/3 innings in 10 games, including seven starts.
"I pretty much put all that stuff behind me," the 21-year-old left-hander said. "I'm focused on what's ahead of me."
Making his pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League on Aug. 1, Romero walked two and fanned three in two no-hit innings. The transition to starting a pro game under the lights at the Class A Short Season level "was just pretty easy," he said. And he didn't experience any butterflies before taking the mound.
The first batter he faced, Tigers ninth-rounder Luke Burch, lined Romero's second pitch to Doubledays third baseman Andres Martinez.
"My catcher [Nic Perkins] told me it was off the end of the bat," the Texas native said, "but [Martinez] made a good catch."
Romero induced two straight groundouts for a perfect inning, then fanned the first two batters in the second. After missing three straight pitches to Dylan Rosa, he threw four in the zone that were fouled off. The eighth offering was inside on the right-handed hitter.
"I was just trying to throw him strikes and a couple of them missed the zone," Romero said. "But everything worked out after that."
In fact, he whiffed the next batter and opened the third with back-to-back strikeouts on seven pitches. Burch flied out to complete Romero's outing on 47 pitches, 32 for strikes.
"I knew it was going to be three [innings]," he said. "As far I know now, I'm going to go a couple threes and then maybe tick up a little."
Yonathan Ramirez (3-3) got the ball for the fourth and allowed two hits and a walk while striking out one over three innings to pick up the win.
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Nationals No. 4 prospect Carter Kieboom contributed an RBI single, while fellow rehabber Matt Skole homered for the Doubledays.
Tigers 10th-round pick Garrett McCain was 2-for-4 and drove in a run for Connecticut.