FAIRFIELD – Victor Romero has taken another step forward toward the ultimate goal – playing Major League Baseball.
Romero, an Armijo High and Solano Community College graduate, has wrapped up his eligibility playing baseball at Oklahoma State and has joined the San Diego Padres at their minor league camp in Peoria, Ariz.
Needless to say, the left-handed hitting catcher is more than excited.
“It was nice going into the clubhouse seeing my locker with a jersey with my name on the back,” Romero said in a phone interview, Monday. “Everyone is chasing that dream, everyone is on the grind.
“It’s a perfect environment in the clubhouse. I like it a lot.”
Romero, who reported to camp Feb. 28, said the Padres have had their eye on him for some time.
“The Padres have always kept up on me,” he said. “They hooked up with me to make sure I was healthy. In January we had a meeting and they gave me the go.”
Romero is coming off a good season last spring for the Cowboys, finishing the season with an even .300 average.
Romero even has a little pop to go with his average, finishing the 2013 season with 12 doubles, four home runs and 29 RBIs. He even stole four bases on seven attempts.
“Oklahoma State prepared me with everything I needed (to make the transition),” Romero said. “I had fantastic coaches. Catching for a first-rounder (Atlanta draft pick Jason Hursh) last year prepared me.
“At Oklahoma State, there were a lot great players from around the country. I faced a lot of great talent.”
Romero couldn’t help but admit being in a pro facility was a plus.
“It’s awesome, especially with the Padres,” he said. “They have brand new facilities. There are six fields we’re on. It feels good going in there every day.”
Romero couldn’t help but reflect on his journey so far, looking back at what got him here.
“It was good playing in high school,” the catcher said. “I never knew baseball could take me this far.
“Going to Solano was the best decision for me. I couldn’t have done it without working under Scott Stover. I give a lot of credit to Stover. He programmed me with my work ethic.”
Stover said it took Romero a little getting used to college ball right out of high school.
“The thing about him was out of high school when we recruited him he didn’t catch that much,” Stover said. “He played mostly third base. Not too many schools recruited him out of high school.
“We had one issue with him the first week, with how he addressed coaches. It was a minor issue, and after that he was the model kid to coach. Then he became a leader, first team, all conference both years, preseason All-American his sophomore year. By the end of his sophomore year, I’d give him signs and he’d wave me off, like, ‘I’ve got this, coach.’ ”
Stover also knows Romero will make the most of his chances.
“It’s good that he got the opportunity,” the coach said. “He’s similar to Ryan Lipkin (Vanden graduate and SCC alum in A’s system), not just because they’re catchers, but because he had the ability to go into a situation like that, that he’s dreamed of his entire life, and remain level-headed.”
Now that he’s getting his shot to show his talent to professional coaches, Romero has a plan to showcase his skills.
“Just playing my brand of baseball, the same game I’ve played my whole life,” he said. “My main goal is to stay healthy. It’s a long season.
“Now that I’m here, I will keep on grinding and get better every day.”
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.