Minor-League Tuesday: Drew Pomeranz and Alex White

The Ubaldo Jimenez trade is still the most befuddling trade of the weekend for me. It makes no real sense for either side. The Rockies had a top-of-the-rotation pitcher having a slightly off season, but Jimenez was still well worth his contract, which is extremely team-friendly. While bad teams sometimes sell these players off to get younger, cheaper talent, the Rockies are not a bad team. The Indians are a good team, but with their pitching depth being a major issue, giving up two legit MLB starters to get one very good one doesn’t make much sense. Having many of their prospects flourishing, the Indians were in building mode, but they traded off two of those pieces for one. Regardless, the trade happened, and we come here to ask about these new additions for the Rockies.

With the 5th pick of the 2010 draft, the Cleveland Indians selected Drew Pomeranz, and as a result, this is his first year in pro ball. Starting in Low-A Kinston, Pomeranz dominated the level until getting a mid-season promotion to AA. Pomeranz’s arsenal starts with a low-to-mid 90s fastball that comes in hard and straight, and it may lead to some home run problems in the future. He backs it up with a hammer curve that should get plenty of swings, and if he should move to bullpen (he shouldn’t have to), his fastball and curveball are a really nice combo. The worry about Pomeranz coming into the year was his change-up. With an excellent fastball and curve, he never really needed it, and scouts weren’t sure how it would develop. If his Futures Game appearance was any indication, it’s vastly improved and is no longer a worry.

The lone worry now is his command and control. While his mechanics are fairly smooth and simple, he has a nasty habit of getting out of those mechanics and having control issues, which almost led to a draft day freefall. His strikeout rate is over 10 due to the stuff, but his walk rate nearing 4 reminds us that Pomeranz still has a way to go. He should be able to improve with some repetition, but standing at 6-5 and 235 pounds, Pomeranz has a lot of moving parts. He may always have issues with his control, but he should be good enough regardless to be a very valuable starter.

Just a year before Pomeranz, Alex White was selected 15th by the Cleveland Indians. White slid in the draft despite an amazing college career because his best secondary pitch was a splitter, something not normally seen in starters. Following a similar path to Pomeranz, White began in Kingston and moved up to AA mid-season, but when he did, something weird happened to his peripherals. His strikeout rate dropped two points, and his walk rate dropped 1.5 points. It led to some questions, but when he began this season with a 10.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 at AAA, those concerns vanished.

White is a fairly stout fellow, standing 6-3 and 215 pounds. His mechanics are pretty simple, but he does throw slightly across his body. White features two fastballs, but his 92-94 mph two-seamer is the more effective pitch. To this, he adds his plus to plus-plus splitter, and this combination of pitches usually leads to bullpen work. In order to stay in the rotation, he needed to add another pitch, and White began working on a slider that he used in high school and college. It’s better, but some wonder if it will be good enough to stick in a rotation.

Unlike the Pence trade, the Rockies got quite a bit of upfront value. White has already thrown in a few major-league games, and Pomeranz could pitch there at some point next season. But the odds are against either being anywhere near as good as Jimenez, and they both may end up in the bullpen due to their respective weaknesses. You wonder why the Rockies traded Jimenez, even for a decent return, but here’s hoping (well from their perspective anyway) the Rockies had a good reason.