It’s been a wild year for Jason Groome.
The Red Sox’s 2016 first-round pick officially signed with Boston on Friday, but the news didn’t come without plenty of drama. Rumors about Groome floated around when he transferred from IMG Academy in Florida back to his hometown Barnegat (N.J.) High after spending only his junior year there. And when the left-hander dropped to the Red Sox at No. 12 instead of being selected No. 1 where he was projected to go, reports of “character issues” came up.
But Groome is using that as motivation.
“It was a rough past year,” Groome said in a conference call Friday. “But my parents are always with me by my side, so is my agent, Jeff (Randazzo), and there’s nothing you can really do because it’s all he-said, she-said stuff. It did affect me at times, but once I got back on the field, I just took all that into consideration and that mainly was my determination this year, just to prove everyone wrong and really show them I can really do this.”
Groome put up a 0.77 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings in his senior season at Barnegat. He’s listed at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, can already throw a mid-90s fastball and has a curveball and a changeup. And he’s only 17 years old.
What’s more, Groome gets to start his career with his favorite team, calling signing with the Red Sox a “dream come true” and revealing second baseman Dustin Pedroia and starter David Price are two of his favorite players. And going to Boston to meet Red Sox manager John Farrell was full of firsts for the young pitcher.
“That was my first time in Boston, and I loved it,” Groome said. “My first time at Fenway Park, as well, and just the atmosphere — they say it’s an old ballpark, but you don’t have the feel to it just because it’s just so modern. I was walking around, and it’s just a beautiful park. I was standing atop the Green Monster, and it was just awesome seeing that field, and then Mr. Farrell, he was just a great guy. We were talking about how we’re both from Jersey, and he just couldn’t wait to get my career started. Overall, it was just a great experience being up there (Thursday).”
Groome, of course, still is a raw talent. Red Sox director of scouting Mike Rikard, who joined Groome on the call, said the southpaw would start in Fort Myers, Fla., in the Gulf Coast League and would join the Single-A Lowell Spinners in two to three weeks if the time is right. The Red Sox will take it slow with Groome, and he still has a lot to learn. But Rikard said Groome is at a higher level than most high school pitchers.
“We’ll hand him over to our GCL coaching staff, and we’ll have a lot of people that are very excited about working with him,” Rikard said. “As far as his delivery goes — it’s one of the things that you guys will all get to see when you see him pitch — he’s got a very nice, natural delivery. … His delivery is extremely advanced for a young high school pitcher certainly.”
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/2xturf
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