On the Orioles farm this season, this lefty had a Minor League Pitcher of the Year kind of season. He led the organization in wins and innings. He was among the best in ERA and had a low walk rate. He pitched well at two levels and ended the year on a roll, pitching well in the Double-A playoffs.
But Grayson Rodriguez was better and any O’s farm pitcher could have said that after the 2021 season.
So, yes, that was a given, but for lefty Drew Rom, 21, it was a banner season. One that began at high Single-A Aberdeen and ended with him with throwing a great game for Bowie in an elimination game in the Double- Northeast Championship. Bowie was down 2-0 to Akron in the best-of-five series and Rom took the mound for Game 3.
He pitched a gem and Bowie would have stayed alive in that series, but the Baysox let a late lead get away as Akron claimed the title. Rom pitched five scoreless innings on five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts on 81 pitches.
It was the end of a year where he pitched in 14 games for Aberdeen and nine for Bowie in the regular season, going a combined 11-1 with a 3.18 ERA. Over 107 2/3 innings, Rom allowed 95 hits with a 2.17 walk rate, a 10.3 strikeout rate, a 1.12 WHIP and a .234 batting average against.
He began the season at Aberdeen, going 8-0 with a 2.79 ERA. His manager there was Kyle Moore, the same guy that managed Rom during the 2019 season with low Single-A Delmarva, where Rom went 6-3 with a 2.93 ERA and 11.5 strikeout rate.
In an early-season interview, Moore was raving about Rom, who is ranked as the club’s No. 25 prospect on MLBPipeline.com
“I love Rom. I saw him pitch all season in 2019,” said Moore in May. “A super-athletic lefty with a bunch of different pitches and commands all of them. So when you are standing there, you have no idea what arm slot he’s coming out of, and he’s got five pitches and at some point of the game, he throws them all for strikes. Really nasty split-finger. So that is his real nasty swing-and-miss thing. His velocity is 92, 94 (mph). He’s got sneaky velocity. You think he’s a normal lefty and you go back to the dugout saying, ‘That thing really jumped on me.’ Really like Rom’s pitchability. He’s young, a high school kid from Kentucky. But he has outstanding feel for his pitches for a young kid.”
Rom can drop down from a sidearm slot at times and he can go in and out of that arm slot seamlessly and effectively, basically at any time and in any count. It has become a real weapon for him, as is his plus slider and that split. He pounds the strike zone.
“For me, that is probably the biggest thing here. I’m not going to blow the ball by people. I’ve been deemed a crafty lefty more times than I can read,” Rom said late in the 2021 season at Bowie. “So, for me, that’s a huge thing, going at them with every single weapon I’ve got and making sure they don’t know what’s coming.”
Among O’s farm pitchers with 80 or more innings this season, Rom led them all in wins, was second in ERA and walk percentage, and third in WHIP. He was a real strike-thrower, as his ranking here shows.
At Bowie, Rom went 3-1 with a 3.83 ERA and allowed nine walks with 47 strikeouts over 40 innings with a 1.10 WHIP.
But down the stretch, he was clutch as Bowie was pushing for a playoff spot. He threw five perfect innings on 54 pitches in his final regular season start. Over his last four games (counting the playoffs), he threw 19 scoreless innings on 10 hits with one walk and 25 strikeouts.
So, yeah, he was rolling. At 21 in Double-A.
“He’s been really good his last four or five times out,” said Baysox skipper Buck Britton late in the season. “I just think it’s comfort level first off, getting to this level. But he’s left-handed and he throws from different arm angles and he is absolutely attacking hitters. He is not backing down from any challenge. And he’s got a lot of confidence going right now. Hopefully, in Akron, we get the same version we got the other night that was pretty special and perfect through five.”
They did get that Rom, but the late lead that got away ended Bowie’s year despite his last strong outing of ‘21.
It was a nice note to finish off a real strong season, as Rom reminded us that when we talk about the most promising young prospects on the Baltimore farm, any list would be incomplete without his name.
O’s pitching prospects and their top 30 ranking via MLBPipeline.com:
He got the Gold: The Orioles have a Minor League Gold Glove winner and it’s baseball’s No. 1 prospect, catcher Adley Rutschman.