Red Sox fans should still be all-in on pitching prospect Jay Groome.
The Boston Red Sox do not have the best starting rotation in Major League Baseball. Even the most optimistic fans will tell you that their rotation could create some problems for the team.
Eduardo Rodriguez is great, but Chris Sale is out. It’s also hard to tell what they will get from Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez is seen as a fifth-man. Outside of that, there are even more question marks.
However, there is reason to be optimistic about the future. Most people are familiar with Bryan Mata, as they should be. Personally, I have him just behind Triston Casas as the best prospect in the system. I’m that high on him and you can’t change my mind.
I’m also extremely-high on Jay Groome though.
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Now, a year or two ago, that would have been a very uncontroversial statement. Fast forward to today though, and it seems like a lot of people have given up on the pitcher. Why, you ask? Injuries. They just kept coming.
Groome was drafted by the Red Sox in the first-round of the 2016 MLB Draft. That means he has been in the system for four years. In that time, the left-handed pitcher has appeared in just 20 games, throwing 66 innings.
That right there has led to quite a few people jumping off the Groome hype train. I’m still here though. I will conduct the thing if I have too. And you should hop back on now. Oh, you need reasons?
How about the fact that he is still just 21? Or that his 6’6″, 220 lbs frame is prototypical? There’s also the fact that he was working with Sale. Remember how excited everyone was then? He still has that superstar in his corner.
The 5.19 ERA might concern some, but shouldn’t the fact that Groome boasts a .227 BAA and a ridiculous 88 strikeouts in 66 innings so far help?
If that strong BAA and absurd K/9 is still not riling you up, how about something about the repertoire.
There are two pitches in particular that should immediately jump out at you. Two pitches that will make even the most pessimistic fans get that same level of optimism that Dee Reynolds has thinking she can be a comedian. Those two pitches are his fastball and his curveball.
The fastball might not seem crazy when you look at the speed. Groome can ramp it up to the high-mid 90s, but it usually sits in the low 90s. However, it has all types of life. Groome has good movement on the pitch, and strong control. That makes this pitch a great strikeout candidate.
If you need anything else when it comes to the fastball, consider the Tommy John surgery. It’s the reason Groome missed all of the 2018 season. A lot of pitchers come back from the surgery and throw harder. Groome essentially has a brand new arm. Think about how much more lethal that fastball could be if he’s sitting at 95.
Then there’s the curveball. He can hit different speeds with it but for the sake of the article, let’s say it’s usually in the high-70s. And yikes can it drop. I’m not just talking 12-to-6 either. Groome gets a little bit of side-to-side movement too.
Those are two pitches that could already play in the Majors, and are only going to continue to improve.
So you’ve got a 21-year-old left-handed starting pitcher. He has a prototype frame and two plus-pitches already.
Yes, injuries have stunted his progress to this point. Let me point this out though. Jacob deGrom did not make his MLB debut until he was 25 (almost 26). So Groome still has four years to be ahead of the “deGrom” schedule. No, I’m not saying he is going to enter the league and be as ridiculously untouchable as the ace of the New York Mets, but the point stands.
Groome is still 21. He entered the minors as someone that people considered to be an elite talent. Giving up on him this early is just flat out stupid.
Do me a favor. Find yourself video of some of Groome’s best games in the minors. He has quite a few fantastic outings. Go watch Groome pitch. And tell me there isn’t a lot to be excited about.
Now think about a rotation with Mata and Groome at the top. They are both just 21 with incredible potential. I’d make an Outkast reference, but that feels like it needs to be exclusive to Teddy Stankiewicz. So we’ll go with Method Man and Redman or Joell Ortiz and Crooked I (because that new H.A.R.D. album is insane).
What I’m saying is both Groome and Mata are incredible. Some will think one is better than the other, and vice versa. Others will think they play off each other perfectly. The reality though, is no matter what they are a problem for the rest of the league. How can that not excite you?
And if you really need a little more convincing, go to his Instagram page and scroll down. Jay Groome’s first ever post is from back in 2013. That post is celebrating the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. Boston did not draft him until 2016.