After the top few names in the Red Sox farm system, things start to get very interesting and individual rankings start to wholly depend on personal evaluating philosophies. Do you value ceiling the most? Are you more about proximity to majors? Is floor the most important thing? The Red Sox have guys in this range that fit all of those categories, and it led to a very interesting vote. In the end, Jay Groome came in as the number five prospect in our community list, taking 18 of 50 votes (36 percent).
Groome has been in the spotlight in the Red Sox system ever since he got drafted in the first round back in 2016. Leading up to that draft, the lefty was seen as a potential 1-1 pick at times before his stock began to fall. Some makeup and signability concerns began to appear, and teams at the top of that draft grew wary. The Red Sox were never really connected to him before that draft began, but he fell to them down at the number 12 overall pick. It’s hard to say the team rarely gets chances at that kind of talent when they had picked in the top ten in two of the previous three drafts before that, but it was a big opportunity. They had a top-of-the-draft talent and they weren’t going to pass it up. They swiped Groome and eventually signed him to a $3.65 million signing bonus.
With the promising in tow, the Red Sox had a real chance to reverse the woes they’d experienced in trying to develop pitching over the last decade or so. Unfortunately, he has never really gotten off the ground. As a high school draftee, the Red Sox were understandably cautious with him in his first year in the organization. The southpaw pitched in two games for the GCL squad that year and one in Lowell for a combined 6 2⁄3 innings between the three outings. There was some sign of his talents there, but it wasn’t much of a sample to base anything on.
Instead, 2017 had set up to be the coming out party for the potential top-tier talent, and everyone was excited to get going. Except, well, once again it didn’t really get going. Groome left his first start of the year in Greenville with a lat injury and he wasn’t able to come back until mid-June. He’d rehab a bit in Lowell before returning to Greenville, but the injury bug eventually caught up again. He was shut down for the rest of the year in mid-to-late August with a forearm strain. In all, he was only able to make 14 starts in 2017 for a total of 55 1⁄3 innings. He wasn’t impressive in that limited sample either, pitching to a 5.69 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 30 walks. Groome came into spring training last year once again looking to show that promise once and for all. Reports from camp were overwhelmingly positive, and the hype was back. That is, until it was announced the forearm injury was back and eventually he had to undergo Tommy John surgery. Not great!
With everything I’ve written, it would be understandable to be wondering how in the world this guy is a top five prospect in the system. Part of it is obviously that the system is down right now. There’s also the fact that his ceiling is still at least almost as high as it was when he was a potential 1-1 pick. Despite the seemingly long and frustrating history to this point, we’re still talking about a kid who doesn’t turn 21 until the end of August. He’d only be entering his junior year of college had he not signed out of high school. Groome also has a good fastball that can get up to the mid-90s when he needs it to, a wicked curveball that could be among the best in the game at its absolute best and a work-in-progress changeup. Combine that with a big frame and solid mechanics, it’s not hard to see where the excitement comes from despite the lack of results at the professional level.
Still, at some point we’re going to have to see something. For those growing impatient, though, it’s probably not a good idea to use 2019 as a measuring stick. Groome underwent Tommy John in the middle of May last year, meaning he probably won’t be back in game action until June at the earliest. If things go well, he may be able to get back into the full swing of things for the last six weeks or so of the minor-league season. Of course, given Groome’s potential and his age, the Red Sox will certainly lean toward caution over aggression. This coming year is just about Groome getting his feet back under him for a chance to potentially, in a perfect world, make the leap in 2020.
Here is our list so far.
Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number six. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. Until next time...