No Surprise

Drew Pomeranz became the highest drafted Ole Miss baseball player ever when the Indians claimed him as the fifth pick Monday night. That he was a top five pick was no surprise. He'd been projected that for weeks.

When I heard the news Drew was chosen fifth by the Indians as we drove home from Virginia, it was hard not to think back to when he got here and how far he has come. Not just as a pitcher but as an interview.

He was shy when he talked to us that first year. This season he actually appeared to enjoy it. He was more relaxed and comfortable.

But that's what college will do for you, and that's what college coaches throughout the country are hoping they're signees will do.

Do what Drew did. Go to college and get better, and not just as a pitcher.

One Rebel signee that should have that decision is pitcher Bobby Wahl. Before we left Charlottesville Monday morning, I grabbed a Washington Post. I was glancing through it as we drove south toward home, and on the back page was a story on Wahl. It's pinned at the top of the message board now.

It's quite the human interest story about a kid and his grandfather. Some of you have already read it.

By reading it, you can be led to believe there's a good chance Wahl will be a Rebel when school starts in August. We'll know today where he is drafted, but it might be a while before we know if he heads to Oxford for college.

Drew Pomeranz

One thing's for sure. The Rebels can use him. With Pomeranz and Aaron Barrett and others gone, there's a spot for a talent like Wahl on the staff next season. Maybe as a Friday or Saturday starter. One would be led to believe that as well.

There's so much that goes into whether a kid goes to college or goes pro. There are examples of success and failure for both roads.

For Pomeranz, the road from Shelby County, Tennessee led to Lafayette County, Mississippi for three years and now to the pros as one of this year's premier picks.

"It's definitely an exciting time, sitting there and waiting for that moment in the draft," Drew said of "that moment" when Commissioner Bud Selig called his name. "I'm glad to finally have it over and know something more about what my future holds."

It's a future he had been planning for years.

I remember his first intrasquad scrimmage back in the fall of 2007. It wasn't pretty. He was all over the place.

But as that fall moved ahead, Drew showed improvement. Early in his freshman season he was relieving. Later that season he was starting.

I recall how Coach Mike Bianco said Drew would be standing near him in the dugout during games as a freshman and saying "I'm ready to go in" in a soft, deep voice, just to let his coach know he was there.

Pomeranz, drafted in the 12th round out of high school by the Rangers, arrived at Ole Miss with confidence and only gained it by pitching in college. He was so good most of this season there was little doubt he would win, unless his offense didn't give him enough run support. That was sometimes the case.

He had 139 strikeouts this year, putting him second on the single-season list and first on the career strikeout list with 344 over the past three seasons. He had a 2.24 ERA this year and allowed only 25 earned runs in 100.2 innings, holding opponents to a .195 batting average against.

For his three-year career, the left-hander was 21-9, tying for the ninth-most wins in a career by a Rebel pitcher, along with Mark Holliman (2003-05), Jamey Price (1994-95), and Barry Gaddis (1971-74).

There has been debate if Drew is the best to ever pitch at Ole Miss. That's arguable and will be discussed for years.

A couple of things are for sure. Pomeranz is the highest drafted player in Ole Miss baseball history. And he benefitted from attending college.

It doesn't always work out that way, but it did for him.

"We're very excited and proud of Drew and know it's a special day for him," Bianco said. "It's one that most people would feel that he deserves. He's worked so hard since he's been here to make himself into the best college pitcher in the country."

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