Jay Groome's Career Starts To Move Forward Again
When the Red Sox set their initial 60-man player pool, they included only one player who had yet to reach the upper levels of the minor leagues.
But the decision to have 22-year-old lefthander Jay Groome—who had never pitched above low Class A—head to the Pawtucket alternate site was hardly an eyebrow-raiser.
The 2016 first-rounder from Barnegat (N.J.) High entered the year having thrown just 66 minor league innings. Tommy John surgery in early 2018 wiped out that season and limited him to just four innings in short-season ball at the end of 2019.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Groome needed work—and to start competing against more advanced competition, particularly as he approaches an offseason when he must be added to the 40-man roster.
In Pawtucket, he often displayed the stuff that made him one of the top pitching prospects in the 2016 draft. He showed strong command of a low-90s fastball that tops out at 96 mph. His curveball—his signature pitch, a swing-and-miss weapon before surgery—was inconsistent but increased steadily in sharpness at Pawtucket, with flashes of its wicked late, pre-surgery break.
Meanwhile, Groome's changeup has developed considerably into what looks like a solid third pitch that, when sequenced properly, can miss righthanded bats. The mix, in combination with Groome’s impressive frame, has looked like that of a mid-rotation starter.
“The ball is coming out really well. He’s throwing hard. He’s commanding all his pitches,” said Paul Abbott, Boston's pitching coach at the alternate site. “As of now, he’s showing signs of a really solid, strong, three-pitch mix. It’s pretty impressive.”
With the regular work at the alternate site, Groome has shown the stuff to compete against hitters in the upper levels. But given the oddity of the site and the fact that he hasn’t pitched for a full-season affiliate since 2017, it’s possible he would be on pace to open 2021 at high Class A Salem with a chance to move up quickly.
Either way, after running in place for years, Groome’s career has finally started to move forward again.
— On Aug. 30, corner infielder Bobby Dalbec became the ninth Red Sox hitter ever to homer in his big league debut.
— In a month of alternate site games, outfielder Jarren Duran had hit as many homers (five) as he did in 132 minor league games in 2019.