July 30th, 2011 will forever stick out in the minds of Rockies fans everywhere as the day that the club pulled a fast one on everybody and traded the franchise's first real ace, Ubaldo Jimenez. Last week, we reviewed two of the players who directly filled in for Ubaldo while he was injured and after he got traded. This week, we'll look back on the MLB work of the two major players the Rox received in return for Jimenez, Alex White and Drew Pomeranz.
Alex White was the first of the two hyped-up prospects to make an MLB appearance for the Rockies, as he debuted for the Indians earlier in the season prior to getting injured and eventually traded. After four solid rehab starts that immediately followed his arrival to the Rockies organization, White made his initial start for Colorado on August 23rd against the Astros at Coors Field. It was probably his best start of the season (maybe in the running with his other start against the Astros in Houston), as he went six innings and allowed five runs on seven hits, with four strikeouts and just one walk. He did, however, allow two home runs, which served as a precursor to what we would see from White for the remainder of his starts - a barrage of longballs.
White went on to allow 15 - fifteen - home runs in 2011 in just 51.1 innings pitched. As a Rockie, he gave up 12 in 36.1 innings. While it is a small sample size, that puts White's HR/9 at 2.6. To put that in perspective, the league average per 180 IP is 0.9, and the worst HR/9 in the league among qualified pitchers was 2.1 (Bronson Arroyo).
He finished the season with 3-4 record and a 7.29 ERA, while striking out 6.5 batters per nine innings and walking 4.4.
Drew Pomeranz was the PBTNL (as well as the centerpiece) in the big trade, thus he didn't join the Rockies organization until two weeks after the deal went down. Following his first minor league start, he underwent an emergency appendectomy that sidelined him for a couple more weeks. After a three-inning "rehab" start with Tulsa on September 5th, Pomeranz got the call to the big club and made his major league debut on September 11th against the Reds. That day gave Rockies fans (especially ones still dejected about losing Ubaldo) a glimpse of hope for the future, as Pomeranz went five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out a pair and picking up the win in the process. His next start was nothing to be ashamed of either, as he held the Giants to two runs on four hits in 5.2 frames while striking out five and walking two.
His only real bad start of the season took place in Houston, where he was shelled six runs on seven hits in just two innings. Naturally, he was tagged with the loss. In the Rockies' season finale in San Francisco, Pomeranz helped his club avoid ending their disastrous season on a sour note by tossing 5.2 innings of three-run ball, striking out three and walking nobody.
Pomeranz finished 2011 with a 2-1 record and a 5.40 ERA. However, he posted a strong K/BB ratio of 2.6, albeit in just 18.1 innings of work.
Final grades, as well as what to expect in 2012, are after the jump...
Alex White - D. While the rookie pitcher showed periodic flashes of being very good, he was extremely hittable and did not command his pitches well. Take away his two starts against the leagues worst team, and you have some REALLY ugly stuff.
Drew Pomeranz - B. The highly-touted prospect may have been thrust into action a bit too soon (especially following a surgical procedure), but he handled it pretty well. That's also not an indictment on the Rockies, who had every reason to see what they had in their blue chip hurler.
Both pitchers will have a great opportunity to start the season as members of the starting rotation. White is going to have to show substantial improvements in his command in order to crack the rotation and avoid starting the season in the minors or in the bullpen. Pomeranz, meanwhile, had an offseason incident that, while probably not all that serious, is a bit of a character red flag. However, if he's able to focus on baseball and continue to develop, he'll almost assuredly be in the opening day rotation, barring any "service time" tomfoolery that the team may or may not be considering.