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Pomeranz a Rebel with a Cause
By Jimmy Jones
(photos by Jimmy Jones)
posting an 8-4 record with 124 strikeouts in 95.1 innings to
lead the Ole Miss Rebels to the NCAA Super Regional against
Virginia, Drew Pomeranz doubtless could sit back after the
season and derive the satisfaction of an artist for a work
It is just not in the junior left-hander's nature to revel in an
accomplishment made singular by circumstance when his team fell
just short of making the trip to the College World Series in
Omaha for the first time since 1972.
Pomeranz has plenty of personal accolades. He was a Freshman
All-American and selected as a Freshman All-SEC performer and
followed that by being named All-SEC Second Team and selected
for the USA Baseball Team as a sophomore. To top it off, he is
considered by major league scouts as one of the top prospects in
the country and projected as a first round pick. He was drafted
in the 12th round by the Texas Rangers out of high school in
honors are nice, but they are not going to affect how I go about
my business," Pomeranz said. "We fell a little short the past
few years, so we are working hard to get this team to Omaha.
"Our program has come
a long way but no one will be satisfied until we can accomplish
Added former Rebels catcher Brett Basham: "All the accolades
haven't really affected him. He has always been a low-key guy,
and I don't see that changing. He has his picture plastered all
over Oxford billboards and advertisements, but you would never
know it by him. He is just one of those guys that don't let
stuff like that get to him."
Basham, drafted by the Padres after the 2009 season, is the
first to tell you that he caught a pitcher that is earmarked for
great things in his future.
"The first thing that really pops out is his presence on the
mound," Basham said. "Nothing ever seems to bother him. His
stuff is unbelievably good. His fastball is in the mid 90s, he
throws his curve ball from 70-80 mph and spots it really well
and he has a changeup coming along that will just make him
"He is 6-5 and he has that Andy Pettitte thing going where he
hides his face with his glove and hat and unfurls that 6-5 frame
at you. That can be imposing to hitters."
The combination of composure, great stuff and physical presence
was what attracted Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco to the youngster
out of high school.
high school his physical talents stood out immediately," Bianco
said. "He is a 6-5 left-hander and was throwing in the upper 80s
and touching 90 mph, so that was the first thing that attracted
"Once he got here, we learned that he is much more than that. He
impressed us with his outstanding work ethic from the start.
There is a guy that corrected some minor mechanical issues and
gained nine pounds while at the same time losing six percent
body fat. Not many people can do that."
The Rebels’ roster was hit hard, especially the pitching corps,
after last season with 11 players moving on to the major league
farm system or graduating. Among them were junior draftees
Phillip Irwin and Nathan Baker. Veteran hurlers Brett Bukvich
and Scott Bittle graduated as well.
They also lost one of the best closers in the nation in Jake
Morgan to injury, so pitching will be a key focal point in
Bianco's squad played in their seventh consecutive Regional and
fourth straight Super Regional last season before falling to
Virginia in their home stadium. If they are to get back this
year they will have to depend on Pomeranz, a Collierville,
Tenn., native to lead the way.
"Drew has always been a big-time pitcher, and the bigger the
stage the brighter he shines," said Bianco, who is entering his
"Anytime that you can return a quality pitcher like Drew, it
takes a lot of pressure off of the rest of the staff. He sets
the example for his teammates not only off the field but he
gives the whole team a boost knowing that we are going to run a
guy like him out there every Friday night.”
got stronger as the season progressed last year, turning in his
first complete game in a win over No. 20 Florida on the road. In
the championship game of the Oxford Regional, he tied a school
record with 16 strikeouts in a complete-game outing against
Western Kentucky – on two days’ rest after throwing seven
innings. He struck out 17 hitters in his USA Baseball debut over
It was an impressive show of physical and mental toughness for a
kid just two years removed from high school.
There's an old saying about "working smart, not hard." In
baseball, as in life, the advantage is in achieving a balance of
Drew Pomeranz could teach us all a little bit about that.