There has been some recent buzz around Kannapolis Intimidators infielder Mitch Roman. I've personally heard from multiple White Sox fans in various forums about Roman, who is kind of an off-the-radar prospect. Through 12 games in the South Atlantic League (Low A), Roman has a triple slash line of .463/.522/.585 and an OPS of 1.107. He has 19 hits and 4 walks in 47 plate appearances and rarely strikes out.
The 6'0', 160 pound Roman was a 12th round selection (Pick #356) of the Chicago White Sox in the 2016 MLB First Year Player Draft. He signed soon after being drafted for $88,000 (a decent-level bonus for that round) and was assigned to the short season affiliate in Great Falls, Montana. In 288 plate appearances for the Voyagers, Roman hit .332/.392/.418 and stole 26 bases in 32 attempts while playing reportedly stellar defense at shortstop, second base, and even a bit in the outfield. Roman was seen as a glove-strong middle infielder when taken by the White Sox. Baseball America called Roman the best defensive infielder in the White Sox 2016 draft class. They described him as having excellent defensive tools at SS, outstanding hands, lateral quickness and a plus throwing arm. Somewhat contrary to that, Roman has been the primary second baseman in Kannapolis, but was mostly a shortstop in his college and high school days in addition to rookie ball.
Mitch is from Fishers, Indiana, which is a nearby suburb of Indianapolis in the central part of the state. He attended Hamilton Southeastern High School where he was a Three Time All-City and All-District performer. NFL players Randy Gregory (Cowboys) and Joe Reitz (Colts) join NBA forward Gary Harris (Nuggets) as some notable alumni from the school. After high school, Roman went on to Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. In 2014, he was the Conference MVP on a team that won 46 games while hitting .390 with 60 RBI and 30 stolen bases. His big season at Sinclair landed him a scholarship to play at Wright State University. In 2015, Roman was named to the All Horizon League 1st Team and had 25 games of 2 or more hits. Roman was 2nd Team All-Horizon League as a Junior in 2015 and had a .336 batting average.
Mitch Roman isn't a household name as a prospect but that could change if the 22-year old continues to hit his way through the White Sox system. The Sox have had success drafting college middle infielders in the past and it will be interesting to see if Roman can continue his ascent in a similar fashion to Marcus Semien (Drafted out of California; 6th round; 2011), Micah Johnson (Drafted out of Indiana; 9th round; 2012), and Jake Peter (Drafted out of Creighton; 7th round; 2014).
Nick Hostetler comes from the John Schuerholz school of scouting. Schuerholz believes in athletes at premium positions and power pitching as the basis for his scouting model. This practice helped him put together the 1985 Kansas City Royals and the Atlanta Braves of the 1990's. Building a farm system around power pitching and premium position athletes is a sound strategy. The White Sox have also made a concerted effort to add more "baseball players" to their system as well which can be seen as a departure from the norm for the organization. Hostetler told our Brian Bilek last year that one of the main organizational goals of the 2016 draft was to add more players that get on base and control the strike zone.
At this link is a video of Roman at Wright State University, via Scout.com (sadly this video can't be embedded, thus the link). He shows a short, compact swing from the right side. He uses a bit of a toe tap as a timing mechanism in this video. It's not a swing that is conducive to producing a bunch of power but he's quick and should produce plenty of gap power. We will look to get some video of Mitch in A-ball when we see him live in a few weeks.
The White Sox were surprised to get Roman as late as they did and the pick is already paying dividends. Roman fits the shift in organizational philosophy as it pertained to the 2016 draft. He's a solid defender at multiple infield positions and has done nothing but reach base since entering the White Sox system. Roman is doing very well at an age-appropriate level, and he should see time at High A Winston-Salem in the near future.
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