Aiea, HI – CBL Winter League baseball is a big draw in the small town. The Aiea Angels, who are affiliated with the CBL’s Minneapolis Millers, draw an average of just over 5,000 fans a game. That of course is nothing compared to the large CBL crowds back in the continental US, but once you realize that the population of Aiea is just under 10,000, it’s much more impressive. The CBL Winter League has emerged as a Cape-Cod version league, but in the most tropical place the US can offer. Most players jump at the opportunity to spend the winter in Hawaii.
Right handed starting pitcher Norberto Roman is no different. The 6’4, 190 pound Dominican has been turning heads here in Hawaii, thanks in large part to a fastball that has been clocked as high as 100 MPH this winter.
Roman has been traded twice since being signed out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old, but both trades were headline grabbing deals. Roman was part of a 5-player package that Richardson City sent to Colorado for SP Jim Clarridge, and the Gold Sox then packaged Roman to move up from #5 to #3 in the draft this past season to land Robert Reynolds.
As Roman warms up for his 10th start of the Winter League season, his Aiea Angels remain in the hunt for one of the two playoff spots up for grabs. Even as he throws at about 85%, the ball has a different sound as it leaves his hand, followed by the familiar popping of a catcher’s mitt. It seems to echo a little longer than most. Scouts from at least four organizations have come to watch Roman pitch live.
By the end of his winning night, Roman will have compiled a 5-1 record with a 3.19 ERA in 54 innings, striking out 60 while walking just 17. The 19-year-old has been kept under 90 pitches in each start, as he threw 84 innings between two levels in the minors as well. His improvement this winter has given him a higher standing among league executives. One league source was willing to share his scouting report with us:
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The OOTP Scouting Association doesn’t view him quite as highly, but still agrees that his stuff has improved considerably over the past year:
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Roman has impressive stats at each minor league level. Across three levels over the last 3 seasons Roman has a 3.58 ERA in just under 225 innings. He’s allowed just 3 home runs total in those 225 innings, and his strikeout rate continues to improve. If he can stay healthy and avoid the major arm injuries that seem to derail so many starting pitchers, the sky is the limit for this flame thrower. With the Millers big league staff in dire need of some CBL caliber starting pitchers, they are likely going to keep Roman on the fast track to try to get him to the big leagues as soon as possible. Performances and improvements like he’s shown this Winter will see him arrive in the big leagues sooner rather than later.