Bloom Seeking Consistency
"Recently in a year and a year and a half I started having problems with inconsistency with my mechanics," Bloom explained. "My goal is to be consistent with every outing and not have two or three good outings and then two or three bad ones before having good ones again. My goal is to stay consistent and healthy." High pitch counts limited the 6-foot-4, 186-pound left-hander to 127 2/3 innings with high Class A Lynchburg in 2006. Bloom went 7-8 with a 4.30 ERA in 25 starts with the Hillcats, striking out 108 and walking 61. "Every since being down (in Bradenton) for Instructional, I zoomed in on my mechanics problem," Bloom said. "There were just a lot of body parts going in places they don't need to go. "Now I'm a lot more compact and try to keep things within and finish strong. The biggest thing is my release point. I have to let my body do the work and not just my arm. It's definitely been identified, so I look forward to spring and throwing well." Bloom went 6-6 at Illinois State University, leading his team with 85 strikeouts and ended his collegiate career with sixth-most strikeouts in school history (219). He went on to go 4-3 with a 2.60 ERA in 12 starts for shortseason Class A Williamsport during his first season. Throwing a four- and two-seam fastball as well as a four-seam changeup and curveball, Bloom has continued his efforts toward throwing each of his pitches for strikes. "The big thing moving up levels is to throw every pitch for strikes," Bloom said. "The most inconsistent is my curveball. It's got a lot of depth and movement to it but occasionally I can't throw strikes when I need to. "My changeup is actually one of my best pitches up with my fastball. That gets me out of jams. My changeup is deceiving and moves. I'd like to change the eye level with my curveball because usually when it's on I'm throwing well. "That means I'm getting out in front of everything and my fastball got life. Once I have all three going (consistent) I'll be OK." The 24-year-old went 4-1 with a 1.87 ERA in 12 starts with the Hickory Crawdads before receiving a midseason promotion where he went 3-5 with a 5.86 ERA with Lynchburg in 2005. "I was able to pretty much get way with mistakes with my fastball (in Hickory)," Bloom explained. "It was good and had a lot of life to it, but I made a couple of mistakes and it wouldn't hurt me. "Then I moved up to Lynchburg and couldn't get away with mistakes, so that was a big adjustment. I relied on my offspeed more compared to Hickory where I just threw fastballs. Once I moved up I basically had a good second and third pitch and I learned that the hard way. "Ever since my changeup and curveball have come a long way. My arsenal has definitely a lot better." As Bloom has continued his efforts in the minor leagues he has witnessed many notable young pitchers climb the ranks to Pittsburgh. "We have won at the minor league level with the talent we have," Bloom said. "There's a lot of guys coming up the ranks – the (Zach) Dukes, (Tom) Gorzelannys and (Paul) Maholms – so you get guys up there getting their feet wet and getting used to their big league game. "Once the foundation is set in Pittsburgh a good team will be in place. I know the fans in Pittsburgh are a little frustrated but they should know a lot of young talented guys coming up should play good ball for the next couple of years." Bloom also knows the Pirates' farm system has more to offer than just pitching. "(Neil) Walker is obviously a young talent," Bloom said. "Ever since I started with him I've seen his raw talent but he's starting to come into his own. (Brian) Bixler is just athletic and you can tell by the way he plays. And (Andrew) McCutchen is just another talent. "You don't see the position players but they're there and on their way to Pittsburgh and should wow some people."