As we continue to get deeper into this ranking of top Red Sox prospects, we continue to go on our mid-tier run of pitchers. Entering this round of voting, there had been four straight pitchers selected on the list as well as five of the last six selections being on the pitching side of things. We can add another one to the list. Coming in at number 12 on our list, and making it five consecutive pitching prospects, is Jay Groome, who received 45 percent of the vote.
Jay Groome has been on the radar of scouts since his high school days, as the lefty from New Jersey was one of the most talented prep pitchers in the nation. In fact, around this point in the 2016 draft season he was seen as a potential number one overall pick in that class. Concerns about makeup that, at least partially, derived from his multiple transfers in his high school career, as well as some signability concerns dropped him down boards.
He had originally been committed to Vanderbilt before switching his commitment to a junior college in Florida. It wouldn’t matter, though, because he slipped due to these concerns and the Red Sox were there waiting at number 12. They hadn’t been planning on making this pick, but when he fell they decided they almost had to, and pulled the trigger, eventually signing the talented southpaw to an overslot deal.
It was an exciting selection for a Red Sox team that doesn’t really get a chance to take those kinds of high upside pitchers very often. As the organization always does with freshly drafted pitchers, they took it easy on him in that first summer as he got used to the professional coaching staff and the lifestyle of professional baseball. He made three starts that summer between the complex and Lowell, allowing two runs over 6 2⁄3 innings with 10 strikeouts and four walks.
Coming into spring of 2017, Groome was the talk of the Red Sox farm. With Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers figuring to graduate relatively soon, the southpaw was the next guy expected to take the top prospect mantle in the organization. But things started going south that spring when the team was reportedly less than pleased with the shape he was in at the start of camp that spring. He would end up suffering an intercostal strain in his first start of the season, cutting his season in half and causing him to never really be able to get into a groove. He ended up making 14 starts later in the year, with three being rehab appearances in Lowell, pitching to a 5.69 ERA over 55 1⁄3 innings with 72 strikeouts and 30 walks.
That wasn’t the pro debut the organization had been hoping for, but it was still just one season for a high school draftee, and even amid all of that he was still missing bats at an impressive rate. The following offseason he started working out with Red Sox ace Chris Sale, which only added to the optimism, but as he was turning the corner in terms of conditioning, the injury bug was still ready to bite. Groome hurt his elbow early in spring training that year, and after trying some rehab he would end up undergoing Tommy John surgery in May, causing him to miss that entire season and almost all of 2019. He tossed four innings in three starts in 2019 between the complex and Lowell, trying to get ready for 2020.
The 2020 season was supposed to be the turning point for Groome. And then COVID happened, wiping out yet another season for the former first round pick, this one through no fault of his own, or even through no fault of injuries. Everyone missed out on development time last summer, but Groome was arguably more hurt than anyone in the Red Sox system, having pitched just 66 innings in the four seasons since he’d been drafted. He did get to pitch down at Instructs in the fall, but the reports coming out of Fort Myers were not glowing, adding more concern and resulting in his drop on prospects list such as this.
Still, amid all of this missed time and relative negativity, Groome is still a former top-tier amateur talent who has never really gotten a chance to get in a groove as a pro, and most importantly he’s still only 22 years old, which he’ll be for most of the coming season. At this point, Groome certainly has to prove he still has it, and there are enough concerns about the stuff that the frontline ceiling he once had is probably all but gone, but there is still something to dream on for a future major-league starter.
The lefty has a big starter’s frame, though he’s been inconsistent in keeping it in the proper conditioning. His fastball velocity had sat in the mid 90s prior to the injury, though reports have that trending in the wrong direction since his injury, so that will probably be the number one thing to watch this spring and summer. Along with the fastball, Groome throws a curveball that had plus potential prior to surgery as well as a changeup that wasn’t great, but was solid enough to be a real part of the repertoire. But again, he needs to prove he still has the feel for those secondaries now that he’s healthy again.
He’ll have the chance to do that this summer as perhaps the most interesting prospect in the organization in this upcoming minor-league season. Groome was added to the 40-man roster this past winter to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive they are in promotions if he gets off to a hot start. Expect the lefty to start next summer pitching in High-A Greenville.
- Triston Casas
- Jeter Downs
- Bryan Mata
- Jarren Duran
- Gilberto Jimenez
- Noah Song
- Bobby Dalbec
- Tanner Houck
- Connor Seabold
- Aldo Ramirez
- Thad Ward
- Jay Groome
Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number ten prospect. 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. We encourage discussion, of course, but please don’t comment under specific players’ names. Instead, scroll to the bottom to start a new comment thread in order to keep the players at the top of the comment section. Until next time...