Orioles pitching prospect Drew Rom and his teammates with Low-A Delmarva have embraced the idea of putting the team ahead of themselves.
Rom, a left-handed pitcher from Fort Thomas, Ky., is team-first kind of player who's helped lead the Shorebirds to a 65-28 record. Like most athletes, he is a true competitor, but he's not concerned about getting individual recognition and continuing his trek toward the majors.
"I think that's just huge for our team," Rom said of that mindset on
Glenn Clark Radio
July 11. "We're going to enjoy our time here and enjoy the group that we have around us. And when it's our time to get called up, then we go and bring that same atmosphere into the next clubhouse."
It sounds like something a grizzled veteran would say, and his performance on the mound this season backs that up. But here's the thing: Rom is acting and playing like a seasoned player when he is still a teenager.
After clinching a spot in the South Atlantic League playoffs by winning the Northern division's first-half title, Delmarva is again in first place in the second half (17-7). The 19-year-old Rom has played a big role in that success. A fourth-round draft pick by the Orioles in 2018, Rom has been more than a reliable option in the Shorebirds' rotation with six wins, 85 strikeouts, a 1.82 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 69.1 innings.
"I feel like I've really just grown like a professional player," Rom said. "Just learning the whole concept of how to be a professional from either my coaches or some of the guys who have already been here and how much different it is from even high school ball."
Rom spent 2018 with the Orioles' Gulf Coast League team. His numbers were solid in 10 games (1.76 ERA, 28 strikeouts and a 0.85 WHIP in 30.2 innings), but Rom and the organization thought he could be better.
He spent most of spring training improving his mechanics and making tweaks to his pitch mix to be able to keep hitters guessing on his throws. He also worked with former big-league pitcher and former GCL Orioles pitching coach Wilson Alvarez by using new technology to help better analyze hitters and their tendencies at the plate.
"We're able to see where each hitter is good at," Rom said. "So it's whether to pitch him in or pitch him outside or if he hits the curveball or changeup. We're really just able to see his weak spots and utilize those in order to get him out."
All of this has helped Rom grasp the game a little quicker at a younger age than many players in the minors, but he still feels like he has something to prove.
"Even though you're younger, you still always have a chip on your shoulder ... and just going out there every day and proving that you're better than the guy in the batter's box," Rom said.
It has been obvious to Rom and everyone around the Orioles that the organization is going through a rebuilding phase, so it's possible he or some of the other young players in the team's system could earn opportunities sooner than they would with other organizations.
Rom admits he has "kind of" thought about that, but it isn't his main concern. He is more focused on where he is right now as opposed to what could be in his future.
"We're more like a family," Rom said of himself and his teammates. "We're more worried about the team and how to win as a team rather than just what each other does individually. We all play for the team, not just for each other, not just for one person. You're playing for the name on the back of your shirt and the name on the front of your jersey."
For more from Rom, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jim Williams