Sophomore slump? Not according to Drew Rom.
Baltimore's No. 27 prospect has followed up his standout rookie season by dominating the South Atlantic League. Rom delivered his fourth straight scoreless start, allowing two hits over six innings Thursday in Class A Delmarva's 14-0 rout of Lakewood at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. He struck out seven and walked one, marking the fourth consecutive appearance in which he's fanned at least five hitters.
Rom (3-0), who hasn't allowed an earned run in his last five appearances, sports an 0.00 ERA in May. The 19-year-old also dropped his ERA to a league-leading 1.45.
Gameday box score
Selected in the fourth round of the 2018 Draft, Rom posted a 1.76 ERA over 30 2/3 innings while surrendering just one home run and holding opposing batters to a .183 average in his professional debut last year in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He struck out 28, walked six and compiled an 0.85 WHIP.
The southpaw has carried that success over to Delmarva. The earned run against Rom came on April 20 against Greensboro, when he gave up an RBI single in the eighth frame during a four-inning relief appearance. The Kentucky native was tagged for an unearned run a week later on April 27 in a start against Augusta after a fielding error in the fourth inning. He posted zeros over the next 21 2/3 innings.
The scoreless streak doesn't mean anything to Rom when he takes the mound, though.
"It's huge, honestly," he said. "But [when I'm pitching] at that point, every thing leaves my mind. It's just me and the hitter, and how I'm going to beat that guy. That's the mind-set I have to have to be successful. It's just me vs. him when I'm on the mound."
In his eight appearances for the Shorebirds, Rom -- one of 16 ranked pitching prospects in the Orioles system -- has been tagged for earned runs in just two of them. Opposing hitters are averaging .217 off the left-hander, who credits his recent success to a tweak to his mechanics.
"There's a lot of mechanical work that we've been doing before my starts," he explained. "I've been loading more into my leg and making sure my hands and legs are timed up. It's allowed me to get a lot more power through my legs and be able to finish through the pitch instead of letting it go. I can finish through the zone and put my best pitches out there.
"It was a big step for me to come up [to Delmarva] and try to go a full season. I have to be able to throw all these innings unlike Rookie ball, where I was only going three innings max, for the most part. I was going out there and trying to prove myself to the people watching."
He took the mound in the second inning with a 3-0 lead Thursday. After Philadelphia's No. 24 prospect Kevin Gowdy opened the frame with six straight walks, the Shorebirds never looked back.
2019 MiLB include
Doran Turchin belted a three-run homer in the second, his fifth big fly of the year, and 14th-ranked Adam Hall crushed an RBI double in the fourth. Hall added a run-scoring single in the seventh before Nick Horvath delivered a three-run triple. Hall finished the day a perfect 3-for-3 with three runs scored and two walks.
In the meantime, Rom rolled through the BlueClaws lineup. After allowing a leadoff single to Jake Holmes to start the ballgame, he retired the next 14 batters before Hunter Stovall walked to lead off the fifth. Rom threw 92 pitches, 59 for strikes.
Gowdy (0-2) was tagged for four runs and did not record an out while his ERA ticked up to 5.00.