Drew Rom Embraces Analytical Approach
The Orioles had a pretty good idea during last year’s draft that they hit it big with a Kentucky high school pitcher in the fourth round.
Highlands High lefthander Drew Rom signed for $650,000, nearly $200,000 above slot value for the 115th pick. He eschewed a commitment to Michigan and reported to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where he registered a 1.79 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in 10 games.
Rom allowed six walks with 28 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. Opponents hit .183 against him and made Baltimore's over-slot signing feel like a bargain.
"It was unreal to be pitching on a professional field and wear the Orioles uniform for the first time,” Rom told MASNsports.com. His mornings were spent at the minor league complex at Twin Lakes Park.
"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 (instructional league).”
Rom doesn't blow the ball by hitters. His fastball sits 88-91 mph, but he also throws a slider with plus tendencies and a splitter.
The Orioles’ interest in Rom grew as he struck out 116 in 60 innings as a high school senior. Breezing through the GCL could vault him to low Class A Delmarva.
"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.
The data pumped into the Ed Smith Stadium complex via the Orioles' new commitment to analytics also filtered to the minor league side.
"I’m learning new information every day, especially with the new front office that came over from the Astros,” Rom 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’re 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.”
— Outfielder Austin Hays injured his left thumbing while diving into second base in a minor league game. An MRI showed only a mild sprain and executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said it’s going to be "more weeks than months in terms of getting him back on the field.”
— The Orioles acquired catcher Lenin Rodriguez from the Phillies for international signing bonus money. Rodriguez appeared in 21 games last summer with short-season Williamsport and batted .213/.342/.295.