SARASOTA, Fla. - He has just a few months of minor league experience under his belt, but his first pro experience in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League went well. So now young lefty Drew Rom awaits the next step.
Drafted in round four last June out of a high school in Fort Thomas, Ky., the 19-year-old Rom reported to the GCL after he signed. He went 0-2 with a 1.76 ERA over 10 games. In 30 2/3 innings, he allowed just 20 hits with six walks and 28 strikeouts. He had an average against of .183 and a WHIP of 0.85.
He is ranked as the Orioles’ No. 25 prospect by Baseball America and No. 29 by MLBPipeline.com. Scouts say he has a strong feel for all three of his pitches. His fastball sits between 88 and 91 mph, and he also features a slider that flashes plus and a split-finger fastball as his off-speed pitch.
Rom said that first pro experience went very well.
“It was unreal to be pitching on a professional field and wear the Orioles uniform for the first time,” he said. “Awesome to have some success. I learned a lot working with (coaches) Wilson Alvarez and Dave Schmidt. They taught me when to throw which pitches. We didn’t work too much on my mechanics until instructs (instructional league in the fall).”
Rom was selected No. 115 overall in the draft and signed to an overslot bonus of $650,000. The slot amount for that pick was listed as $483,300. He had a strong commitment to Michigan, but the O’s convinced him to turn pro after he fanned 116 in 60 innings as a high school senior.
He said draft day was emotional.
“It was a mix of anxiety and happiness. When they called my name, we were jumping around the house. It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream,” Rom said.
Now he moves from short-season ball likely to a full-season club and seems destined to begin the year in the Single-A Delmarva rotation.
“The goal is to make a full-season team and then be able to succeed to line myself up for another promotion next year,” he said.
Rom is among a group of minor league pitchers I spoke with excited about the new information and data that has come to the O’s farm. The analytics and technology is not limited to Ed Smith Stadium. The pitchers are also getting an education at Twin Lakes Park.
“I’m learning new information every day, especially with the new front office that came over from the Astros,” he said. “The amount of data that they have is unreal and they are teaching us how to use it and be better on the mound.
“We are learning about spin rates, which counts where we most use our fastballs and how predictable we are. What the ball seems to do movement wise and how to get better with that.”
Concern about Cobb: O’s starting pitcher Alex Cobb threw just one inning and 13 pitches last night in a 1-2-3 top of the first at Ed Smith Stadium. Cobb left after that inning with a mild groin strain. The injury comes just days before he is scheduled to start on opening day on Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
“We hope he’s fine and we got him out of there in time and that he responds well in the next 72 hours,” manager Brandon Hyde said after the Orioles’ 8-7 loss to the Twins.
We’ll wait to see how Cobb responds the next few days and if he gets through a bullpen session fine Monday or Tuesday, allowing him to start Thursday.