Ricky Romero will fill one of the two vacancies in the Toronto Blue Jays' starting rotation, giving the young left-hander his best chance yet to prove the team didn't whiff by taking him with the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft.
Romero, 24, will join ace Roy Halladay, Jesse Litsch and David Purcey on the staff, manager Cito Gaston told reporters on Monday at the Blue Jays' spring training complex in Dunedin, Fla.
"He's pitched himself on the team," Gaston said.
Right-hander Scott Richmond of North Vancouver, B.C., and lefty Brad Mills are vying for the remaining opening.
Romero has yet to pitch in a regular-season game in the big leagues — a disappointment considering Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi passed on such players as Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and Cincinnati Reds slugger Jay Bruce in order to select Romero in the loaded 2005 draft.
Well-known major-leaguers Justin Upton, Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun were taken ahead of Romero, while Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Garza went later.
Romero split last season between double-A and triple-A. In seven starts at the higher level, he went 3-3 with a 3.38 earned-run average and 38 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings.
Romero's promotion to the Toronto starting rotation came a day after a solid spring training outing in which he held the Houston Astros to two runs on eight hits over seven innings and struck out six.
The Blue Jays begin the regular season next Monday at home against the Detroit Tigers.