Stu Pomeranz, relief pitcher

Where did he come from? Is he for real?

Stu Pomeranz was the second-round draft choice of the Cardinals in 2003, and reached AA in his second full season at age 20. It appears that he got hurt at age 21, because he only pitched in 18 games in 2006 and 6 games in 2007. He was released in spring training 2008 and sat out the season; he pitched in independent ball in 2009. He pitched fairly well as Colorado’s AA closer in 2010, pitched briefly with the Dodgers’ organization in 2011; and signed with the Orioles in spring training 2012.

He pitched about as well as possible in 2012. He started at Bowie, where he faced 48 batters, striking out 20 with a 1-20 BB/K ratio and a 0.00 ERA. He was promoted to Norfolk where he faced 33 batters, striking out 15 with a 2-15 BB/K ratio and a 0.00 ERA. He was promoted to Baltimore where he pitched 6 innings with a 3.00 ERA. He got hurt in late May and missed the rest of the season.

At Norfolk, he was if anything more impressive to watch than his numbers would indicate, and so naturally I’d like to say he was a hidden find, much like Tom Wilhelmsen in Seattle. But he’s been hurt a lot, and it’s impossible to say if he can sustain his success without getting injured. Plus, he success is based on a total of 81 batters at AA and AAA. So, while he’s got a chance to be really good, I don’t know how high that chance is.

The Orioles did not tender Pomeranz a 2013 major-league contract but signed him to a minor-league deal in January.

What’s his ceiling?

If he’s really as good as he appeared in AA and AAA, of course he could become a closer. After adjustment, he should be able to strike out more than a batter an inning with a 5-1 K/BB ratio, which is Jonathan Papelbon territory. More realistically, he could be a strong set-up man. That, of course, assumes he can stay healthy and effective.

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