One-on-one with Ole Miss’ Drew Pomeranz

Follow Kendall Rogers on Twitter at @ysportsncaabb.

Drew Pomeranz isn’t happy being good. He wants to be great.

The Mississippi left-handed pitcher had a fantastic high school career and turned down serious overtures from the Texas Rangers to attend college with hopes of etching his name into the Rebels’ history books.

He has done that in three seasons with the program, but Pomeranz believes there is more to come.

As a freshman, Pomeranz compiled a 4.16 ERA. But last season, he showed great improvement as a sophomore by compiling a 3.40 ERA.

“He has just been outstanding for his entire career,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “He is just a guy that is a phenomenal competitor. He is probably the best competitor I’ve ever had in the program.

Photo Drew Pomeranz is expected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming MLB draft.

You match that up with his talent and it’s a dangerous combination. As hard as he works on the field, he is the same way in the weight room during the offseason. He does everything to improve his ability and strength.”

The hard work is once again paying off.

Pomeranz, in the midst of a huge draft year that likely will end as a first round pick in the upcoming MLB draft, has managed to improve even more since last season.

So far this spring, Pomeranz has made five starts and compiled a 1.23 ERA in 29 1/3 innings of work. He also has struck out 49 and walked nine and teams are hitting him at a .170 clip.

“He has probably been more consistent, but it’s hard to say because he has been so good throughout his career,” Bianco said. “I would say, though, there is more consistency in the strike zone with all three pitches. He certainly has gotten off to a great start. He is a good one.”

He also is one the Rebels won’t forget. They hope he won’t forget them someday, too.

The Pomeranz show might just be in its first act.

Rogers: You’re off to a fantastic start this season. How would you assess your performance to this point?

Pomeranz: I feel like I am pretty well right now. I’ve really been trying to build on past experiences and building on each outing. You learn a little each season, and now as a junior, I feel like I have improved a great deal.

Q: You seem to be more dominant this season than ever before. What have you improved on most from last season to this season?

A: In years past, I’ve had our coaches tell me that scouting reports are saying that when my curveball is on I am very tough to hit. So now I am just trying to do a much better job of locating all of my pitches and dumping my curveball in the zone when I need to.

Q: How would you describe your overall stuff on the mound?

A: I threw a lot of fastballs in the past couple of seasons. But it seems like this season I’m able to throw whatever pitch for a strike. I’ve been able to locate very well so far this season. I also like to use my curveball quite a bit.

Q: What is something you could improve on between now and the end of the season?

A: I think just building on each outing of the season. If one weekend I’m not throwing my fastball where I want to as usual, I make sure to work on that during my weekly bullpen sessions. I will then work on my delivery and mechanics with hopes of keeping everything in tune. Just want to establish a rhythm.

Q: As one of college baseball’s premier pitchers, how do you deal with incredibly high expectations?

A: Expectations don’t really bother me too much. You can be a top prospect or whatever, but it doesn’t really take away from the fact you have to go out on the mound each week and perform. Just because you’re a top prospect doesn’t mean anything. Nothing is promised in this game. So I always go out there with something to prove. Expectations don’t bother me.

Q: What is your favorite pitch to throw? Also, is there another pitch you would like to throw?

A: My favorite pitch by far is the curveball. I know it’s a little different than most curveballs, so it is definitely my go-to pitch all the time. I’m not sure if there are any pitches out there that I would like to throw. To be honest, I am pretty happy with the three pitches I throw right now.

Q: As a veteran, what players on the team have impressed you so far this season?

A: We have had some really good freshmen so far this season. Alex Yarbrough and Tanner Mathis have really done a nice job so far this season. It seems so rare to me to see young players go out there and hit so well with the caliber of pitching we’ve faced so far this season. We still have some pretty good arms to see in SEC play, though. Those guys have really impressed me.

Q: Looking at the rest of the season, what do you think the team could improve on the most?

A: We just need to focus on being more consistent throughout the weekend. We’re struggling on Sundays a bit and we need to fix that. I think that is going to be a difference maker moving forward the rest of the season. Hopefully we can soon learn how to finish out weekends.

Q: What have you learned most from Coach Mike Bianco throughout your college career?

A: He had a long talk with me last year about battling each time out. He also talked to me about not letting hitters knock me out of games. Last year against South Carolina I got knocked around and didn’t even make it through two innings. He just told me I needed to go out there and be a competitor and not let anyone knock me down. He just wants me to stay competitive.

Q: Who is the toughest hitter you’ve ever had to face at this level?

A: There really aren’t too many hitters out there, but South Carolina’s Whit Merrifield certainly stands out. He just seemed like a really good hitter last season. I couldn’t get that guy out last time we played the Gamecocks.

Q: At this point, it is common knowledge you will be one of the top picks in the upcoming MLB draft. If you had your choice, what pro team would you go to?

A: I honestly really don’t have any certain team in particular. It doesn’t really bother me which team chooses to draft me. I just like baseball. I don’t really have a favorite team.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of being a pitcher at the Division I level?

A: I guess it’s just tough to get used to when you’re younger. For someone coming out of high school, it is really tough learning how to pitch at this level. You can’t just go out there and throw. You have to learn how to pitch. Keeping hitters off balance at this level is difficult. That is the biggest challenge you face as a pitcher.

Q: You’re on the mound in the CWS Championship Series in Omaha. Who would you want the opponent to be?

A: I would have to say LSU. That definitely would be a very high intensity series. It’s one of our best rivalries here in the SEC.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Yahoo! Sports and Follow him on Twitter and follow Yahoo! Sports College Baseball on Facebook. Send Kendall a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010