Stu Pomeranz: From Bowie to Norfolk to Baltimore

Have the Orioles found a diamond in the rough with Stu Pomeranz?

Not only does it appear that they may have, but his fast rise from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk now is taking him to the major leagues as Pomeranz is expected to be in Baltimore later today and is quite likely to be added to the Orioles roster to help its taxed bullpen starting tonight against Texas.

The 27-year-old, right-handed pitcher, a second-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003 whose career was derailed by injuries and reportedly some personal issues, has been putting up some dazzling numbers on the farm for the Orioles.

They signed Pomeranz on February 2, and the pitcher that was in independent ball in 2009 and pitched a total 50 innings over the 2010 and 2011 seasons is now getting outs and strikeouts at a stunning rate for the Orioles.

Pomeranz began the year with Bowie and threw 13 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run with one walk to 20 strikeouts.

He moved to Triple-A April 27 where he has pitched 5 2/3 hitless and shutout innings with a remarkable 12 strikeouts.

So between Bowie and Norfolk, he has pitched 19 innings, allowing just seven hits and no earned runs with two walks to 32 strikeouts. Opponent batters have hit just .109 (7-for-64) against him in the minors this year.

Good thing I checked in with his Baysox pitching coach over the weekend to find out about Pomeranz since he is now headed for Baltimore.

“He was pretty impressive while he was here,” Bowie pitching coach Kennie Steenstra said of Pomeranz. “He was anywhere from 90-96 mph with his fastball. Has a nice, he calls it a slider, it’s more like a hard curveball. Kind of a slurve. It’s got very good depth to it, and it’s a pitch that guys at this level were having a lot of trouble with. Honestly, I think guys at a lot of levels would have trouble with it, it’s a real good, hard breaking ball.”

The Orioles’ plan for Pomeranz seems to be working. They started him at Bowie and pitched him just once every four or five days or so to give him time to work on his breaking pitches. Then with Triple-A, he was pitching more often.

“Coming out of spring training, we specifically wanted to get his breaking ball to where he could pitch it backdoor to lefties and do the wrap slider to the left-handers, where you go to the back foot. We really thought being able to have him pitch every four or five days and get a side (session) in between gave him more time to work on that pitch without having the pressure of trying to get people out at the same time. It was also a way to stretch him out a bit and get a few more innings,” Steenstra explained.

Pomeranz used that time wisely to improve that breaking ball.

“Absolutely. He was getting a better feel for it and able to throw it for strikes when he wanted to and able to throw it different ways to hitters,” Steenstra said. “Things worked out really well while he was here.”

Velocity is not everything, but Pomeranz showed a good fastball while with Bowie, Steenstra said.

“Especially with him going every four or five days, those readings were probably a little higher than if he was pitching every other night. But he didn’t seem to a be guy that lost a lot from one appearance to another. It is safe to say he could sit 93, 94 mph most nights. The hitters will tell you what they are seeing and they weren’t picking up on his fastball very well here.

“You never know. It would be a nice story. Here’s a guy whose been out of baseball and had some struggles in his life. We just kind of picked him up off the scrap heap, so to speak and here he is in Triple-A with a chance to maybe knock on the door to the big leagues. Those are the stories you like to hear about, and he seems like a very good kid,” Steenstra added.

Pomeranz is another player that reportedly has worked out in the past with current Orioles special assistant Brady Anderson. That connection led to Pomeranz coming to Camden Yards in January where he threw for club officials after pitching well in winter ball in Venezuela. Now he returns to Camden Yards and this time he might get a uniform.

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