Pair of Rays hurlers see action in Futures Game
Prospects Rivero, Romero cherish opportunity in Kansas City despite struggles
KANSAS CITY -- Last season, Matt Moore pitched in the 2011 Futures Game. By season's end, he was pitching in the postseason and earning considerable hype as a Rookie of the Year frontrunner for 2012.
This season, the Rays' representatives in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game are considerably farther away from the big leagues, but that doesn't make their future any less bright.
Pitchers Felipe Rivero and Enny Romero both pitched for the World team in Sunday's 17-5 loss to the USA at Kauffman Stadium.
Rivero, a left-hander, has been terrific for Class-A Bowling Green this season in the Midwest League. In 17 games, he's made 16 starts and posted a 6-7 record and a 2.35 ERA. He's struck out 73 batters in 84 1/3 innings.
"It's been amazing," Rivero said of his Futures Game experience. "Three weeks ago I was in the Midwest League All-Star Game and now I'm here."
Rivero pitched the bottom of the fourth for the World team, and things did not go well. He walked three batters in the inning, and allowed a smashed double off the fence that scored a run. An errant throw scored another run, and the inning ended with a double play.
Despite the strong numbers, Rivero said he still has things he needs to work on, evident by his rough outing Sunday. He noted that improving his curveball was one of his second-half goals.
Romero, also a lefty, has been pitching for Class-A Charlotte this season. In 16 games, he's made 14 starts, going 3-3 with a 3.04 ERA. In 83 innings, he's struck out 61 batters. He was ranked the organization's No. 8 prospect heading into the season.
"It's exciting, a good experience for me," Romero said. "The work I've put in shows. I really hope to keep developing. But this is great, being with different people, different teams ... just try to do the best I can on the field.
"My progress has been super this year, because I've improved my control and my focus in the strike zone. The first part of the season I had some problems, but the second half has been better. I've improved my changeup and I've got a new pitch, a cutter."
Romero followed Rivero with his appearance in the bottom of the fifth. He allowed a pair of singles but exited with no damage on the scoreboard.
Rivero and Romero's lockers were right next to each other in the visitors' clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium, but it isn't the first time the two have shared close quarters. They were roommates in Spring Training.
"[Enny] was my roommate in Spring Training, so when I see him, it's like seeing my brother," Rivero said.
While the duo might be a ways from the Majors, at least they now have experience in a Major League clubhouse. For Rivero, it was his first time in one, and he said the biggest difference was the size.
"It's bigger than ours," Rivero said with a laugh.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.