I was in total shock when I learned that Drew Pomeranz was to be included as the "player to be named later" in the deal that brought Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies to the Indians. Pomeranz is a first-class, top shelf prospect that could be pitching in the Rockies' rotation as early as September, and I have little doubt he will be in the starting rotation next season.
Who is Pomeranz, and why would anyone in Cleveland be upset that he was traded? After all, he hasn't proven anything yet, right? To begin, Pomeranz is left-handed. That's a rare commodity in today's starting pitching world. It's hard to find quality left-handed starting pitchers. In fact, the Indians have very few quality lefties in their entire system. Of course, Pomeranz was king of that particular mountain, as I expect he will eventually be for the Rockies.
Let's take a look at what led to the Indians taking Pomeranz with their top pick, No. 5 overall in the 2010 first year player draft.
Pomeranz had been a very successful high school baseball player at Collierville, Tennessee High School. That's the same high school that produced the Reds' Zack Cozart. Here's what Drew's high school coach Jeff Hopkins had to say about him"
"Drew was an exceptional talent. I used him as a closer as a 9th grader....which is a testament to his composure and competitiveness. He was a 4 year letterman, who was used as a starter his final 3 years of High School. Drew is a great competitor but more importantly, he is a great teammate. Always puts the team before himself...always had that great attribute...he just wants his team to win! His teammates loved him because they knew it was more about team than about Drew. Great person. That is no accident, because his mother and father are great people."
He was 18-6 during his high school career with 11 saves; 181 IP, 119 hits, 312 K, 49 ER 1.90 ERA.
By the way, in addition to Cozart and Pomeranz, Mr. Hopkins also coached Dan Uggla. What a great career he's had.
And so, as I had figured, the Indians have traded an "exceptional talent." Here's a bit more of what leads up to Pomeranz being such a highly regarded prospect.
When he pitched for the University of Mississippi, Pomeranz was a College All-American as a junior in 2010. He also played for the United States College National Team. In his junior season at Ole Miss, he went 9-2 with a 2.24 ERA in 16 games over 100.2 innings pitched with a 139:49 K:BB. Those are big time numbers, and the type that get a guy drafted.
He was actually drafted twice, once out of high school inn the 12th round . That was when he graduated from Collierville. He chose to go to college at University of Mississippi instead. His dad and uncle also attended Ole Miss and it was an easy commute for the entire family. In 2010, the Indians selected Pomeranz and gave him a $2,650,000 signing bonus. That's an investment they have now made for the Rockies.
Pomeranz's brother Stuart was drafted by the Cardinals as a pitcher, and he has since been released by the Dodgers this year after he had made it to Double-A Chattanooga. Stuart Pomeranz helped his younger brother Drew learn how to throw the knuckle curve, which is a part of Drew's current repertoire. As Drew explains it, the pitch is thrown with a flick of the wrist as opposed to a complete turning of the wrist, an action that provides less stress to the arm and hand.
omeranz throws his fastball anywhere from 92-96 miles per hour. I have seen him at 97 with very little effort. He has amazing poise on the mound and he is mature beyond his 22 years. Not quite as tall as his 6-foor-7 brother Stuart, Pomeranz is 6-foot-5 and at least 230 pounds of solid athlete.
Often left-handed pitchers are known to take time to harness their command. Maybe because there are fewer lefties than righties, their troubles with wildness get more attention than deserved, but that shouldn't be the case with Pomeranz. I don't see him losing control and being wild for an extended period of time. I feel he will be able to command all his pitches. What I have seen at times is an occasional spurt of getting too much of the plate. When that happens, as it did in this year's Futures Game, Pomeranz will get hit and hit hard.
I have also seen times when Pomeranz showed the ability to "climb the ladder" on hitters. He would start the hitter with a pitch on the corners in the strike zone and pitch by pitch elevate the fastball until the fastball is so high the hitter can't possible catch up with it. The velocity is too great and the elevation too high. The temptation too much. Lay off? No way. Especially with two strikes. That's a great weapon for a high velocity pitcher.
The breaking balls he throws, including that knuckle curve, are difference making in a pitch sequence. When a hitter has been set-up with the high velocity fastball, he has to be ready to pull the trigger on that pitch, but then comes that 12-to-6 twister. Goodbye. At-bat over.
The important point about the knuckle curve is that Pomeranz can throw it for strikes. He also throws a slider/cutter-type pitch and I've seen him flash the changeup, but he usually doesn't throw more than three or four of those a game. Unlike a lot of pitchers, so far he has gone to the bank with two types of fastballs and the knuckle curve.
There is no question that Pomeranz and Alex White were pitching prospects No. 1 and 2 in the Indians' organization. They were going to provide back-to-back heat and deception at the top of the rotation for years to come. White has an issue with an injured finger and supposedly, the Indians were concerned he would become another Adam Miller. Miller was a top Tribe prospect shelved with a horrible finger problem. He is finally working his way back to form after years of surgeries and rehab. By the way, White cost the Indians $2,250,000 to sign. If my math is correct, that's $4,900,000 in bonus money in first-round draft picks the Indians just traded to Colorado - a nice hunk of change for a club that constantly sends out vibes about being broke.
Baseball executives indicate that draft selections and players in the entire system are to be utilized as needed by the organization. That includes playing for the major league club or being used in a trade to improve the product on the big league field. That's what the Indians did. They chose to use four prospects in a trade they felt would improve their chances of winning now. Can I blame them for that? I haven't been a "win now" type critic with this club. I always felt they were far, far short of having a championship team in 2011. I believed they were on the right track (with Pomeranz and White). Front office executives are paid to make tough decisions. Time will tell.
No way I would have given up Pomeranz, White, Joe Gardner and Matt McBride for Jimenez. Not a chance, but the Indians did and now we'll see if they made the right call. For the long term. Not just one year. The Rockies have six years of quality starts ahead from Pomeranz. Maybe more than that, and evenmore from White, Gardner and McBride.
Sure, Pomeranz isn't a proven starter and Jimenez is, I can only report what my eyes have seen. But my eyes have seen Pomeranz having electric stuff from a textbook athlete with size, poise, a very strong and healthy arm and a great feel for pitching. His high school coach who may know him best has confirmed my opinion. I wish Pomeranz well. My only concern now? He will be pitching at Coors Field. That, my friends, is the wild card in the entire equation. We all know what Coors Field can do to pitchers.
Before the trade deadline, its likely Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd had several deals in place for Jimenez. Maybe he put names in a hat and picked one as the winner. If you ask me, he drew the right name.
Trayvon Robinson is now on the Mariners' roster. It's a tough place to hit, but Robinson should be able to use the gaps well. He may struggle at the beginning, but he'll make some adjustments and be fine.
Trades may still be completed by obtaining waivers. I still think the Astros want to move Wandy Rodriguez.
Johnny Giavotella, one of my favorite Royals prospects has been promoted by the big club to play second base. I've written about him this season and I'm thrilled he's getting a chance. He can hit. He'll be challenged defensively, but he can hit.
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