By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Drew Pomeranz almost certainly walked off the field as an Ole Miss pitcher for the final time Friday night.
Top-five draft picks don’t typically return for their senior college baseball seasons.
Pomeranz, a 6-5, 231-pound junior from Collierville, Tenn., has been projected as high as the No. 2 overall pick in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft, which begins today.
Outfielders Matt Smith and Tim Ferguson are among the Rebels’ other underclassmen likely to be drafted highly enough to consider leaving the program with eligibility remaining.
A number of recruits could be lost as well, some high-profile signees that are expected to make a quick impact in 2011 if they attend Ole Miss.
The most significant among the signees is right-handed pitcher Bobby Wahl, of Springfield, Va. He’s entertained scouts from more than 20 organizations in his home in recent weeks.
Right-handed pitcher R.J. Hively, formerly of Cal-State Fullerton who pitched this season at Santa Ana College, catcher Will Allen of Gainesville, Fla., and infielder Preston Overbey of Jackson, Tenn., could face draft decisions as well.
Clearly, though, Pomeranz is the irreplaceable part.
“He’s the premiere college pitcher in the country. He works both sides of the plate with that power breaking ball. He’s going to be in the big leagues very quick. He’s on the fast track,” St. John’s coach Ed Blankmeyer said.
Pomeranz threw seven scoreless innings in the Rebels’ 10-5 win over the Red Storm in the opening round of the Charlottesville Regional Friday.
Ultimately he was charged with two runs against St. John’s, runs left on base that scored when reliever Eric Callender gave up a home run to the first man he faced.
In his last four starts, opponents have scored while Pomeranz was on the mound just three times over 26 innings.
The pitcher of the year in the SEC, Pomeranz led the league in earned run average, strikeouts and opponent batting average. He ends the season 9-2 with a 2.24 ERA, 139 strikeouts, 49 walks and an opponents’ average of .195. He threw one wild pitch in 1002/3 innings.
Some analysts had speculated that control problems in the second half of the season could cause Pomeranz to stay on the board a while longer.
He has improved that control, however, allowing just six walks in his last 21 innings. His seven shutout innings with just one walk and seven strikeouts against South Carolina in the SEC tournament – with a large number of scouts and MLB personnel on hand – may have cemented him as a top-five pick.
If the draft projections hold true, Pomeranz would become the highest selection in Ole Miss history, out-distancing Lance Lynn in 2008 and Chris Coghlan in 2006.
Lynn is now off to a strong start with Triple-A Memphis in the St. Louis organization. Coghlan was the National League Rookie of the Year with the Marlins last year.
Both were supplemental first-round picks.
“With all the great talent that’s come through here over the years, it’s an honor to be thought of, I guess you can say thought of right now, as going ahead of them,” Pomeranz said.
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org