Posted: 10:58 a.m. Friday, June 7, 2013
By Christian D'Andrea
Starting pitcher Kevin Ziomek's sights are set on a trip to Omaha. Even if he doesn't make it there, he knows where he'll be playing once his career at Vanderbilt ends.
The lefty pitcher, who dazzled the SEC with an 11-2 record and a 1.92 ERA on Friday nights, was picked 58th overall in Thursday's MLB Draft by Detroit. He'll join the Tigers' farm system once his NCAA career ends, should he choose to sign with the club.
The Tigers have developed a reputation for picking Vandy baseballers in recent years. Ziomek is their sixth draft choice to hail from Vanderbilt in the past three years. Other notables include Aaron Westake and Curt Casali, who are both playing single-A ball for the organization.
Ziomek has had a stalwart career with the Commodores. He was a Freshman All-American in 2011 but was shockingly left off the All-SEC squad this season despite developing into one of the league's best starters. With the "Omega Man" on the mound this spring, Vanderbilt went 8-2 on Friday nights against conference opponents. While Ziomek may have been overshadowed by Saturday starter Tyler Beede, he has proven to be an invaluable member to a Vandy team that has set several regular season records.
The Massachusetts native has made a name for himself as a starter in college baseball's toughest league, but worries about his lack of breakout potential may have aided his drop to the late second round. Ziomek has a strong fastball that sits around 90-93 MPH and a solid breaking ball/changeup combination behind that. While all three are above average pitches, none are consistently dominant. After a strong start to 2013 - which included a two-hit, 13 strikeout complete game against top five Oregon - Ziomek slid from "spectacular" to "great." While that was more than enough for the Commodores, it may not have been enough for scouts to consider him as a high-level starter in the major leagues. Instead, scouting reports suggest that the lefty could end up as a key arm out of the bullpen as a professional.
Batters across the SEC may not share that opinion, and Ziomek still has plenty of time to turn the scouts' prediction around. He'll start this weekend as the 'Dores face off with #12 Louisville in the Nashville Super Regional. If the big lefty can come through with a big showing against the Cardinals, he can help drive this team back to Omaha for the second College World Series berth in school history.