Making Adjustments

It's safe to say the majority of Ole Miss fans are also fans of the Atlanta Braves or St. Louis Cardinals. But with the success Mike Bianco has brought to Oxford on the baseball diamond, those same Braves and Cardinals fans now check the box scores to see how their favorite past Rebels are fairing at baseball's highest level.

When the major league season opened in April, Ole Miss had seven former greats on big league rosters, but the guy who saw his emergence to the majors happen the quickest after departing ways with the Ole Miss baseball program was the Colorado Rockies' Drew Pomeranz.

"It's fun," Pomeranz said of playing professional ball. "I've been lucky enough to not have to spend a lot of time in the minors. It's a great experience. I'm out there just trying to learn the difference between pitching in college or the minor leagues and up here."

Nevertheless, he's doing just fine.

Everyone remembers watching Pomeranz toe the rubber in the Rebel red and blue each Friday night in the spring. There were plenty of standout performances from him that made those in attendance at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field yell "Dreeeeeew." However, none were better than the masterful piece of pitching Pomeranz put together on two days' rest as he tallied 16 strikeouts in the NCAA Regional Finals against Western Kentucky to propel Ole Miss into the Super Regionals in 2009.

There's no doubt Rebel baseball fans – no matter who they are a fan in the major leagues – follow Pomeranz's professional career.

The Collierville, Tenn. native was drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians, but a trade in 2011 sent Pomeranz to Colorado.

Pomeranz made his big league debut on Sept. 11, 2011 in a winning performance, giving up no runs on two hits with two strikeouts in five innings of work against the Cincinnati Reds. He tallied a 2-1 record in his four starts in the latter part of 2011 to carry momentum into the offseason.

He headed to spring training and impressed the Rockies as he earned a spot in the starting rotation to start the year. Pomeranz had his struggles early this year on the mound, but he also showcased his talent with the bat.

On May 7, Pomeranz launched his first career major league home run into the seats in left field at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif.

"That was pretty cool," Pomeranz said. "I had gotten a few hits before that. We were playing the Padres and Edinson Volquez hit me in the leg on a line drive, and I was up second next inning. Then, I ended up hitting the home run off him. I didn't think it was going at first. It was just really cool to get one."

Drew Pomeranz
File Photo

Pomeranz's struggles early on caught up with him when he was eventually sent down to the Rockies' Triple-A team to work on some mechanical issues.

"I was just on the side of the ball a little bit," Pomeranz said. "I was cutting and wasn't throwing as hard as I normally was. I wasn't the same pitcher that I had been that had gotten me there. So they sent me down for a little bit and I started getting on top of the ball and got my velocity back and started throwing how I've been throwing my whole life."

Since being back with the Rockies, Pomeranz has had some impressive outings, but unfortunately, the stats don't show it thanks to a struggling Rockies' offense. The southpaw is 1-6 with a 4.99 ERA. He picked up his first win of the year outdueling the Washington National's ace Stephen Strasburg on July 6, going 6 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball while racking up six strikeouts.

"I think my velocity has been a big thing," Pomeranz. "I got back into the low-mid 90s, which was where I hadn't been since I had been sent down. It's a lot easier to pitch that way."

Colorado has a four-man rotation going right now. Therefore, they have a 75-pitch limit for their starters. The pitch count was the reason Pomeranz was lifted from his spectacular start against Washington.

"It's a part of it," Pomeranz said. "We know that we're going to be on a 75-80 pitch limit. I don't think I've thrown on four days' rest yet with all the off days and All-Star break. It's just the way things are right now. We all just understand it and try to be as efficient as we can with limited pitches."

Pomeranz has learned a lot from his first season in the big leagues, but one of the biggest adjustments is to Coors Field, his home ballpark. Coors Field has always been known as a hitter's park and a place where some say "pitchers go to die."

"It's definitely a little bit different," Pomeranz said. "You know going out there that your curveball is not going to be as good as it would be on the road. The ball travels a little bit further there. It's something you have to get used to. It's different pitching there. You've just got to find a way to make it work."

So far, he's had his share of bright spots to go with his disappointments. But if the success he had on Friday nights in the SEC in an Ole Miss uniform translates to the professional game, it's safe to say Pomeranz will do much more than "make it work."

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