Red Sox Pleased Groome Fell To Them

BOSTON—As the draft approached, the Red Sox weren’t certain that lefthander Jason Groome would be available to them with the No. 12 pick, but they didn’t want to leave anything to chance in case a pitcher once rumored in consideration for the top pick of the draft remained on the board. And so, the team’s amateur scouting department—led by Northeast area scout Ray Fagnant—stayed on him throughout a dominant senior season at Barnegat (N.J.) High in which the 17-year-old allowed one earned run while striking out 81.

The Sox saw a pitcher who pitched comfortably at 90-94 mph and topped out at 96-97 with a hammer of a breaking ball and flashes of a changeup he could throw for strikes. As the draft arrived, Groome was, in the words of general manager Mike Hazen, “very high on our board.”

His combination of stuff, youth, and a pitcher’s frame (6-foot-6, perhaps 220 pounds) are almost never available to team’s picking outside of the first few picks in the draft. In recognition of the rare opportunity, the Sox pounced when signability and makeup whispers left Groome available at their pick.

“He’s a very talented kid,” Sox scouting director Mike Rikard said. “In comparison to most other high school pitchers, he is pretty advanced.”

Groome’s signability became a considerable question as the draft approached based on reports that he was moving his college commitment from Vanderbilt to Chipola Junior College. Yet the lefthander certainly didn’t sound like someone who expected to wait to start his professional career once he found out that he’d been drafted by his favorite team.

“They’re my favorite team. It’s just a dream come true,” Groome said. “I worked my tail off to get where I am and I couldn’t be any happier where I got picked. … Money doesn’t really matter to me. I’m just happy to start the next chapter of my life, and that’s playing professional baseball.”

The Sox, meanwhile, suggested that they were comfortable with Groome’s makeup.

“With any player we’re considering at the top of the draft, we do extensive work on makeup and character, background, all of those things,” Rikard said. “We’re very comfortable that we know who Jason Groome is.”

In Groome—the third high-school pitcher taken by the Sox in the first round since 2013, joining lefthander Trey Ball (2013, No. 7 overall) and righthander Michael Kopech (2014, No. 33 overall)—the Sox see a power pitcher with a potentially significant future in a rotation.

“You know what it takes to compete in the American League East, the stuff that it takes to compete in the American League East,” Mike Hazen said. “Obviously, he has a development path that he’s going to have to go through, but we saw the upside of a guy who can pitch in this rotation someday.”


• In the second round, the Sox took 6-foot-4 shortstop C.J. Chatham out of Florida Atlantic. Chatham hit .357/.422/.554 with 8 homers in 58 games as a junior. Despite his atypical size, the Sox expect him to stick at short. “He’s a very good college player. We believe he will stay at shortstop,” Rikard said. “He’s a good hitter, he’s got a very nice, kind of proven track record with the bat and we do think he’s more than just a contact type, contact-oriented hitter. We think there could be some power there. We like his instincts, we like his makeup, and again probably most importantly we do think he can stay at shortstop and be very good defensively.”

• Righthander Michael Kopech, out since spring training due to a broken bone in his right hand suffered in a fight with a teammate, touched 99 mph in his return to game action in extended spring training at the end of May. He’s expected to join an affiliate in June.

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