Every Rockies fan remembers the painful night last July when Ubaldo Jimenez was traded. To be honest, I was not thinking about who we got in exchange for him on that night. All I could think about was how he was made to pitch one terrible inning in San Diego before hugging his teammates in the dugout and hopping a plane for Cleveland.
Once the dust cleared, however, I did take a good look at the four guys the Indians sent over in exchange for Ubaldo. They threw their entire farm system at us in exchange for a guy they hoped would prove to be a bona fide ace. So far he hasn’t, but my hope is that he still will. Said farm system contained, among others, potential future ace Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz was the Indians’ first-round pick and the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, so he was expected to be very special.
And I think it’s safe to say that that’s just what he was when he made his major league debut with the Rockies in September. Before that, we weren’t even sure whether he would make his debut in 2011, thanks to very little minor league service time and an appendectomy. But he recovered, performed, and was called up. On September 11th, he pitched 5 scoreless innings against the Reds, allowing just 4 baserunners. Most importantly, he seemed impossible to rattle. The confidence he brought to the task was stunning, and foreshadowed good things for this youngster.
Of course, he is still a youngster, and his inexperience showed in his next three starts. None of them were scoreless (and in one of them he gave up 6 runs in 2 innings to the ASTROS), but the stuff is there. He’s doesn’t have a ton of velocity, but some late life on his fastball allows him to deceive hitters. He has a very good curveball and a developing changeup. While his mechanics aren’t perfect yet, their potential plus Pomeranz’s maturity and self-control indicate that he can and will be a very good pitcher. He may even be an ace.
Will he be the Rockies’ ace? Not in 2012. That guy will (hopefully) be Jhoulys Chacin, with maybe a little competition from Jeremy Guthrie. Pomeranz will compete for a spot in the rotation in spring training, and I sincerely hope he earns one. I can easily see him covering the back end for the first half of the season and then potentially moving up a spot or two as others struggle. Ideally, I’d love for him to be the Rockies #1 or #2 guy for many seasons, depending on how Chacin does. How long that takes will be up to Pomeranz himself, and the quality of the coaching he receives.