Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Jay Groome eager to contribute
Boston Red Sox lefty pitching prospect Jay Groome is eager to take the mound and contribute to the team in the near future.
An already thin rotation took another hit yesterday, as the Boston Red Sox announced that Chris Sale would undergo Tommy John surgery. Unless you were living in a cave (and incidentally some of us are right now… metaphorically of course), most Sox fans knew that it was only a matter of time before Sale underwent the knife.
That leaves a rotation of Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, and a bunch of unknowns. Eovaldi and E-Rod were impressive this spring before things got shut down, but having two excellent pitchers doesn’t mean squat when you need a formidable five-man rotation. Just ask the 2002 Red Sox squad. Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez both won 20 games, but John Burkett, Frank Castillo, and Darren Oliver only won 23 games between them, and the Rose Hose failed to make the playoffs.
Enter the 12th overall pick of the 2016 draft, Jay Groome.
Groome and Sale are both lefties, both will have undergone Tommy John surgery (Groome was recovering from his last season), and both clock in at 6-foot-6. But Groome has FORTY pounds on Sale, and can hopefully be the next Jon Lester. Lester, incidentally was the last successful pitcher the Red Sox developed in their farm system nearly THIRTEEN years ago! Hopefully Groome will be able to contribute in 2021.
Groome said all the right things in camp this spring, as reported by Rob Bradford of WEEI.com:
"“Last year was a totally different scenario because last year I was just trying to get my feet back into it,” said Groome. “This year it’s go-time. I just have got to perform. I’m full-go which I haven’t been for a while. It’s been frustrating but now the way I’m feeling with everything … I’m still young and ready to play but I have to stay healthy and perform.”"
In an article for MLB.com, Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett noted that Groome had a healthy offseason and was getting stronger as his regular throwing program was progressing. He also noted that while teams tend to be conservative with guys coming off such serious injuries, but added the Red Sox will hold no limitations on Groome whenever he toes the rubber next.
Groome, who was once the Red Sox’ number one prospect before the injury bug hit, has fallen to number seven on that list. He hasn’t exactly dazzled in the minor leagues either. Groome has played in parts of three seasons, compiling a 3-9 record, a 5.18 ERA, and a 1.40 WHIP. But most of those numbers are skewed by a dreadful 2017 campaign where Groome was trying to work through his injuries.
Groome spoke about the struggles in single A Greenville in detail with Baseball Prospect Journal:
"“My struggles were just a matter of executing my pitches,” explained Groome. “I was throwing the ball down the middle a lot with my pitches at Greenville. The hitters were making me pay, but I had a couple of strong starts where my command was exceptional. Now having better command of my pitches and understanding opposing hitters will benefit me in the long run.”"
Groome went on to add that his elbow soreness was reoccurring, something he hadn’t been used to at any previous point in his career. Lingering pain and questions about how his body would react probably made Groome mess up some of his mechanics as well. He also assured fans that his arm is now completely pain free, and he’s ready to finally make actual strides toward getting onto a big league diamond soon.
Groome’s most impressive minor league stat is the fact that he fanned 88 batters in 66 innings pitched. MLB.com ranks Groome’s curveball as one of the best secondary pitches of any MLB pitching prospect.
At this point, Groome just has to get out on the mound and prove he can compete. Making the big club in a now shortened 2020 season won’t happen. But hopefully, Groome can add some location to his impressive stuff and be a factor moving forward in 2021.