SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: Drew Pomeranz #47 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the San Francisco Giants during an MLB baseball game at AT&T Park on September 28, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Colorado Rockies rookie lefty Drew Pomeranz locked down a rotation spot with a strong spring, but began the year with a tune-up start in Triple-A. It went well: four shutout innings for Colorado Springs, with four hits, one walk, and four strikeouts. He's expected to be promoted to the majors in time for his next start on April 15th. What can we anticipate?
Drew Pomeranz was an ace starter at the University of Mississippi for three seasons. He posted a 4.16 ERA with an 81/30 K/BB in 71 innings as a freshman in 2008, a 3.40 ERA with a 124/37 K/BB in 95 innings as a sophomore in 2009, and a 2.24 ERA with a 139/46 K/BB in 101 innings as a junior in 2010. As you can see, he improved every year, earning a spot in the first round of the '10 draft, where he was selected fifth-overall by the Cleveland Indians.
He made his pro debut last season in the High-A Carolina League, posting a 1.87 ERA and a 95/32 K/BB in 77 innings with 52 hits allowed. He posted a 2.57 ERA with a 17/6 K/BB in 14 innings for Double-A Akron, then was a key prospect in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade with the Rockies. Slowed by an emergency appendectomy in August, he still threw 10 shutout innings for Double-A Tulsa, then posted a 5.40 ERA with a 13/5 K/BB in 18 innings for the Rockies down the stretch, despite lacking his best stuff.
Strongly-built at 6-5, 230, Pomeranz works consistently at 92-94 MPH and hits 95 on his best days. His velocity was down late last year, as low as 87-88 at times, but he wasn't at full strength after the appendix incident and has his stuff back this spring. Even at lower velocity, his heater has good movement. He combines it with a knee-buckling breaking ball. His changeup is still a work in progress, but has improved enough to the point that the Rockies don't think he needs additional minor league seasoning. Tuesday's start was just a tune-up to keep him in shape until his spot in the rotation comes around on the 15th. He did have a minor glute injury this spring but hasn't shown significant ill-effects.
Pomeranz has made substantial improvements with his control over the last year. He has just 28 innings in Double-A/Triple-A, which from an analytical standpoint is the only real caution flag here. Although some inconsistency seems plausible (he is a young pitcher, after all), Pomeranz has the stuff and command to be an anchor at the top of the rotation once he settles in.