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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Highlands Alum Named Orioles Pitcher of Month in May of 2019 Season

Rom Focused on Control During Time Off Baseball

Patrick Cavey. Highlands 2018 alum Drew Rom winds up during a game with the Delmarva Shorebirds last season. Rom has a career 2.64 Earned Run Average in 31 games in the minor leagues. He earned the distinction of the Baltimore Orioles Pitcher of the Month in May, 2019.

By G. Michael Graham

Drew Rom admits he misses the game as much as any professional baseball players do.

The Major League Baseball recently announced the cancellation of the minor league seasons as a result of the Coronavirus 2019 pandemic. Rom had made a huge contribution in two seasons in the minor leagues for the Baltimore Orioles franchise.

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"I feel like I'm handling it pretty well because I know that I can't do anything to change the situation," Rom said. "I'm kind of taking it as it is and trying to find the brighter side of this."

One of the bright sides to this summer Rom noted is he has been able to enjoy a normal summer like many of his former Highlands classmates who are home from college. He is still getting his workouts in for when the time to return to baseball comes.

Rom graduated from Highlands in 2018 after helping the Bluebirds to a state runner-up finish. The Bluebirds won four straight 9th Region crowns in his four years at high school also finishing state runner-up in 2015.

Rom has been able to work out with pro guys up at Midwest Athletic Performance Gym in Mason, Ohio since gyms opened up in June with other players. That is close to Prasco Park where some of the Reds will be working out during the season.

Rom is 6-5 with a 2.64 Earned Run Average in two seasons. He pitched in the rookie league for the Gulf Coast League Orioles out of Sarasota (Florida) in 2018 appearing in 10 games with nine starts and posting an 0-2 record in 30.2 innings with a 1.76 ERA to go with 28 strikeouts, six walks, 20 hits, nine runs with six earned and just one home run allowed.

Rom moved up to play for the Delmarva (Salisbury, Maryland) Shorebirds of the Lower A South Atlantic League in 2019. He went 6-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 21 games including 15 starts recording one save in four opportunities. In 95.1 innings, Rom struck out 122 to go with 83 hits, 36 runs with 31 earned, five home runs and 33 walks. Rom earned a spot on the South Atlantic League All-Star Game.

"At this level, it's going pitch-by-pitch and being able to throw each pitch for a strike," Rom said. "Eventually, you'll have that full arsenal that you'll be able to throw whenever. Right now, it's about fine-tuning everything and getting everything perfected."

Rom earned Orioles Organization for the Pitcher of the Month in May, 2019. He made five starts going 3-0 with just one run in 25.2 innings pitched for a .35 ERA. He had 32 strikeouts and just eight walks. He strung together 25.1 innings of scoreless baseball. Rom previously said that things that worked in high school do not work as well in the minor leagues so he had to make some adjustments.

"I just kind of felt completely locked in every time," Rom said. "I wasn't necessarily all in my head. It was just me going through my process and doing everything the best way I could do it every time. It just kind of felt robotic at that point. Everything was just so smooth and crisp. I was very happy with that month."

In high school, Rom threw fastballs, sliders and splitters. He said he'd never really thrown a change-up until this past season.

"(The Delmarva coaching staff) liked the option with it and it would provide something that's more accurate than the splitter," Rom said. "It is something I can throw at any time and not just as a strikeout pitch as the splitter was. In spring training, that was the main focus. Right now with this break, it is the main focus."

Rom said Cincinnati Reds ace Luis Castillo throws one of the best change-ups in the game. Castillo went 15-8 last year with 226 strikeouts and a 3.4 ERA.

"It's unreal," Rom said of Castillo's change-up. "He has the ability to locate it wherever he wants. Also, just the type of movement that he has off it compared to his fastball looks to be a fastball out of his hand and just completely drops off. I think that's why it's one of the most devastating pitches in his arsenal."

Delmarva clinched a postseason berth for the first time since 2005 winning the SAL Northern Division first-half title with a 48-21 record. A franchise-best 9048 mark made the Shorebirds the 14th SAL team since 1980 to win 90 games during the regular season and the first since 2006. But the Hickory (North Carolina) Crawdads swept the Shorebirds in a best-of-three series to win the SAL Northern Division crown. 

Hickory eventually lost to the Lexington (Kentucky) Legends in the SAL championship series, 3-1. Lexington owns consecutive league titles.

Rom said he's not touched a bat since the state championship loss against Louisville St. Xavier in 2018. Rom hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh in the 10-6 defeat.

"I always wanted to hit once or twice in the major leagues," Rom said. "I guess we'll see if it's ever going to happen."

Rom threw his first pitch for Delmarva against the Legends on April 6. In the 5-4 loss, Rom threw 3 and two-third innings allowing three hits, an unearned run. But Rom struck out eight and walked two.

"You don't really see that one happen too often where you end your high school season where you start your pro career basically," Rom said. "You don't get all that home support and all those fans and everything. That was a really special moment for me for that debut. It was just so close to home and it was just really special to have everyone there."

Salisbury is located about two hours, 15 minutes from Baltimore not far from the East Coast. US Highway 50 runs through Salisbury eastbound before ending on the East Coast at Ocean City, Maryland. It goes westbound for more than 3,000 miles to California. That includes a run through downtown Cincinnati. Salisbury is about 10 hours from Fort Thomas by car.

Rom plans to take some classes at the University of Kentucky in the fall to start working toward his Bachelor's Degree. He will be majoring in Neuroscience.

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