Hochman: Drew Rom, pitcher Cardinals acquired for Jack Flaherty, doesn't stand out among prospects
Within hours of the Major League Baseball trade deadline, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak speaks the media about trading Jack Flaherty (to Baltimore) and Paul DeJong (to Toronto).
There was hope from this keyboard that the Cardinals could package Jack Flaherty and Dylan Carlson in exchange for a standout pitching prospect, perhaps from the Yankees or another team. Or even use more assets to nab a current starter in the majors.
That didn’t happen. Carlson is still a Cardinal, and Flaherty was dealt, by himself, to Baltimore instead. While St. Louis received three players, the lone close-to-the-majors pitcher isn’t a sure thing. Heck, Drew Rom’s Triple-A ERA is 5.34, his fastball is in the low 90s and one prominent prognosticator, baseball writer Keith Law of The Athletic, said in a piece: "I have a hard time seeing him as a major-league starter.”
John Mozeliak, the Cardinals president of baseball operations, tried to maximize every deal made this week. He did bring in a haul overall. I’m especially intrigued by the two Toronto prospects, Sem Robberse and Adam Kloffenstein. But let’s just say I hope I’m wrong on Rom.
At 23, Rom is a lefty with a highly touted slider. He fared well in 2022 at Double-A (4.37 ERA, 7-2 record, 101 strikeouts in just 82⅓ innings, along with just 29 walks). He was promoted and started seven games at Class AAA Norfolk in 2022 (4.54 ERA).
This year has been, um, uneven.
His bloated ERA, similar to Flaherty’s, is due to some extremely bad starts. One night against the Charlotte Knights, he allowed eight runs. And Rom allowed six runs in each of three other starts, including a game at Memphis on May 25 (Jordan Walker walked and singled in two plate appearances against Rom). He had one other start allowing five runs, another allowing four — thus that means that 13 of his 19 starts he allowed three runs or fewer.
And he has exactly 100 strikeouts in 86 innings (and 46 walks allowed).
“We're certainly excited about getting him,” Mozeliak said Tuesday after the trade deadline. “When you look at the breadth of pitching we got, we did look at guys that were maybe more of a traditional St. Louis Cardinal model, high ground-ball rate. But we also tried to tilt more toward swing-and-miss and a higher strikeout rate. ...
“I think the most important thing is (Rom’s) ability to go pole to pole. Durability. But we were also, frankly, just very excited about his ability to strike people out and just have success. And so, that just fits in what we were looking to do.
“Obviously, you're not going to find a top-10 prospect when you're trading for these types of things, unless there's massive amounts of money involved or something.”
Rom was the Orioles’ No. 18 prospect on MLB Pipeline (Jackson Holliday, Matt’s son, is No. 1). Rom is No. 26 on the Cardinals’ list. Slotting in at No. 9 for St. Louis is César Prieto, the infielder nabbed in the Baltimore trade. But as we know, “Mo” said the goal this trade deadline was “pitching, pitching, pitching.”
The third player from Baltimore was Zack Showalter, a 19-year-old who will pitch in High-A. He’s No. 23 on the Cardinals’ list.
Rom will return to Memphis to pitch for the Redbirds. That August rotation will serve as the early “primary” in the 2024 race for the rotation in St. Louis. It’s possible that one of the prospects from these trades could be a starter for St. Louis next year. But the Class AAA pitcher acquired for Jack Flaherty sure doesn’t seem like the front-runner.
In today’s 10 a.m. “Ten Hochman” video — brought to you by Siteman Cancer Center and Window Nation — Ben Hochman discusses Masyn Winn, the Cardinals’ top prospect who could possibly crack the majors this season. Also, a happy birthday shoutout to Gus Frerotte! And as always, Hochman picks a random St. Louis Cards card from the hat!
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