Drew Pomeranz is just two starts into his pro career, but the Indians prospect is already making adjustments like a veteran.
After using his fastball effectively in his debut against Winston-Salem, Pomeranz showed an effective changeup in no-hitting the Wilmington Blue Rocks for 5 2/3 innings before surrendering the no-no and the lead in a 2-1 Kinston loss.
"I was really happy with my changeup today," said the No. 5 overall pick in the 2010 Draft. "I had a good mix of pitches -- what our coaches were looking for in terms of percentage of pitches. My fastball was a little bit up, and I ended up giving up a hit on a fastball that was up."
That hit was by Wilmington center fielder Whit Merrifield, who smacked a lined single to center to score Adam Frost.
Frost had walked, stolen second and advanced to third on a poor throw to second by Roberto Perez on the steal attempt.
"One pitch made the difference between no runs and no hits -- at 3-2, I elevated a fastball," added Pomeranz of the critical delivery to Merrifield. "I have to learn from things like that. I have to throw that pitch inside where it was supposed to be, and he might not have hit it."
Merrifield was the last batter Pomeranz faced Wednesday. The left-hander exited after fanning eight batters and walking two with just the one hit and an unearned run allowed.
In 11 Carolina League innings to start his Minor League career, the University of Mississippi product has yet to allow an earned run, yielding just three hits while fanning 17 and walking two. He has yet to factor in a decision.
"The first outing, I pretty much went out there and threw all fastballs and did really well," said Pomeranz of his outing in which he struck out nine without walking a batter over 5 1/3 against the Dash. "But I think more for me right now, I need to develop my changeup and learn to throw my offspeed pitches for strikes more consistently."
Wilmington's Rey Navarro helped the Blue Rocks take the lead in the top of the seventh when he led off with a triple -- his third in the last four games -- off Indians reliever Brad Brach. Navarro, who is 11 for his last 22, scored on a John Whittleman groundout.
The negative result for Kinston doesn't divert the focus from the stellar first week for Pomeranz. The left-hander, who signed for $2.65 million at last August's deadline for drafted players, is a pure power pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and a power curve that many scouts believe is the best of the 2010 Draft class. Pomeranz, though, is trying to expand his repertoire.
"The word is that you need three pitches to dominate in the big leagues," said Pomeranz. "So my focus is to develop my pitches to where I can throw them where I want at any time. I got two or three rollovers on my changeup today, and I've just got to build on that."
Pomeranz, a 2010 Golden Spikes Award finalist, was perhaps the best pitcher in the history of the University of Mississippi. At No. 5 in the 2010 Draft, his was the earliest ever selection of any Rebel, and he passed Cardinals prospect Lance Lynn as the school's all-time strikeout leader as a junior. The first Rebel to be named SEC Pitcher of the Year, Pomeranz said pitching in the SEC has helped prepare him for jumping immediately to the Carolina League.
"The SEC's a tough conference, and it helps you because you know you have to bear down on every outing. That's just how I was raised to pitch anyway. You've got to throw your best game every time and throw your best every pitch. I had to bear down every single week."
As for the next step for a pitcher who has shown he may be too good for his level already, Pomeranz says a promotion is not on his mind.
"I'm here working on just showing them that I'm ready -- that's all I can do and throw my best. The rest is out of my hands."