Orioles pitching prospect Drew Rom, who currently pitches for the High-A East Aberdeen IronBirds, is happy to enjoy some normalcy again after COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the minor-league season. However, he did find a place to stay sharp in 2020.
“Back in 2020 when we kind of got the call that we weren’t going to have a season it was kind of just like, ‘What are we going do now, what’s going on?'” Rom said on Glenn Clark Radio June 11. “I was lucky enough to find a league in August where I could actually [play] baseball. I played in The Battle of the Bourbon Trail [in Kentucky].”
“That was just a really good experience for me and it just kind of kept me on that competitive edge. … Now in 2021, it’s just great to be back,” he added.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound left-hander has a 4.26 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and has struck out 37 batters in 31.2 innings for Aberdeen so far this year. Drafted out of Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., in 2018, Rom had a chance to pitch against some former big leaguers back home in Kentucky in 2020.
“Brandon Phillips was actually one of those guys,” Rom said when asked who he struck out. “That was just a really cool experience for me because he actually lived in a town that I grew up in when he was with Cincinnati.”
Before pitching for the IronBirds, Rom pitched for the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds in 2019, posting a 2.93 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 122 strikeouts in 95.1 innings. Rom has made a lot of improvements in the way he pitches since then, particularly with his delivery and command.
“It was just a bunch of mechanical work for me it was just a lot more consistency in my delivery and that just kind of makes everything [work] through the zone. … I’m more able to repeat everything better,” Rom said.
Under the leadership of Orioles GM Mike Elias, pitchers have plenty of technology at their disposal to improve as well.
“With the new regime it’s kind of all about seeing how your mechanics work and see what can still be adjusted to try to get that last little bit of velocity out of you or make everything with your windup or your stretch way more consistent,” Rom said.
Aberdeen is currently 21-16 this year, one of three Orioles affiliates with a winning record. With the big-league team struggling, attention has shifted toward those minor-league teams and the prospects on the farm. Rom is happy fans are counting on the young guys in the system to eventually turn things around at the big-league level.
“I think we all kind of love that attention. You have to go out and prove yourself every game. People aren’t just going to watch Minor League Baseball games just to watch it,” Rom said. “They’re going to actually pay attention and look at who these guys are who are coming up. It’s kind of like a pressure on our shoulders we kind of all enjoy. It’s us having to prove ourselves every day.”
Rom went on to speak about how he is proud to represent the next generation of Orioles coming through the farm system.
“We’re kind of all maturing into that aspect of our game a little bit earlier than most people are,” Rom said. “I think that it’s just really shown through how all of our minor league system is playing right now. Everyone has something to prove everyone, just trying to be in that next wave of Baltimore Orioles in those upcoming years.”
For more from Rom, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Aberdeen IronBirds