For a minor league pitcher struggling to command a specific pitch, there are a few ways to try to improve. For Orioles pitching prospect Drew Rom, he watched a lot of videos and tried to find the perfect grip for his changeup. But another strategy to help his changeup become more effective was talking to one of the best in the majors.

Rom got the chance to talk with Orioles ace John Means, who has one of the best changeups in the sport, during Means’ rehab assignment at High-A Aberdeen in 2021. For Rom, it was an incredible opportunity to pick the brain of Means and learn more about how to utilize his changeup.

“I was a little nervous to talk to him, because he’s Means, he’s our big league All-Star guy,” Rom said on Glenn Clark Radio April 13. “… I just asked him about the changeup because that’s what I’ve been struggling on. And he was the nicest, genuine guy that you could ever talk to. He helped me out for a good 5-10 minutes. Just talking over what he feels, how he throws it and what he thinks about it.”

Rom’s conversation with Means helped a lot with throwing his changeup, but he was also very excited to tell other people about his interaction with the All-Star pitcher.

“I was so happy about it,” Rom said. “And honestly, I went back and told my family and was like ‘Hey, John Means talked to me for like five minutes.’ I felt like the coolest guy ever that day.”

The changeup could be the key to helping Rom improve. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound left-hander is ranked as the Orioles No. 17 prospect by MLB Pipeline. Rom played high school ball at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., and was named Kentucky Mr. Baseball as the best player in the state as a senior. Rom had committed to the University of Michigan but opted to sign with the Orioles being drafted in the fourth round in 2018.

Rom pairs an upper-80s to low-90s fastball with a slider and changeup. Last year, Rom pitched for Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie. Between the two stops, Rom pitched 107.2 innings and posted a 3.18 ERA. He also recorded an impressive 120 strikeouts and only surrendered 26 walks. This year, Rom started the season back at Double-A. He has made two starts, giving up three runs and striking out 13 in 8.0 innings.

In the offseason, Rom worked a lot on his changeup and was able to figure out what grip felt the most comfortable for him. He also worked on adding fastball velocity. Velocity is huge given the current state of baseball, and for Rom this meant getting stronger in the offseason.

Coming into this new season, Rom is looking to keep progressing and improving on his impressive stats from last year. The 22-year-old is focused on figuring out the best way to get batters out.

“Ultimately it’s going to be keeping the big league guys off-balance,” Rom said. “Then just attacking with every pitch I’ve got and just hoping I can get them off-balance at least once or twice, where they either roll over or I get a nice little strikeout. Either way, an out’s an out.”

Additionally, Rom is hoping to continue to improve his mechanics. Last season, Rom said that he found a lot of success because he was able to simplify his mechanics and stay consistent.

“It is muscle memory, but it’s repeating that delivery over and over — 80, 90 pitches a game,” Rom said. “At that point it is muscle memory and it’s going to take a lot to keep progressing and keep that consistent.”

Rom is one of many pitchers in the Orioles’ system hoping to make an impact at the major league level. Baltimore’s farm system is full of promising and exciting bats, but analysts have mentioned it lacks big-time talent in the pitching department beyond Grayson Rodriguez and D.L. Hall.

All of that talk provides some added motivation for the young arms. For this upcoming season, it will certainly be something that the pitchers in the minors are aware of.

“I think everyone just kind of has it in their mind like, ‘Hey, we’re going to go out and show these guys that they are kind of dumb, they don’t know what they are missing,'” Rom said. “And just go out to prove to ourselves and to them that we’re better than everyone thinks that we are. And it does kind of light the fire in ourselves, too, to just go out and be the best we can.”

For more from Rom, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Bill Vaughan