Why Jay Groome Had Teammates Buzzing At Red Sox Alternate Training Site

Jay Groome took another small step forward Monday at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.

The left-hander faced eight batters across two innings in a simulated game at the Boston Red Sox’s alternate training site. He allowed four hits but also struck out three while showing flashes of his intriguing potential.

This might not seem like much, especially with the 21-year-old prospect yielding some hard contact in the intrasquad outing. Groome’s curveball — responsible for all three strikeouts — had his teammates buzzing, though, and his fastball touched 95 mph, according to SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall.

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The Red Sox need to add Groome, a first-round pick (12th overall) in 2016, to their 40-man roster this offseason to protect him from Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 draft. The decision seems like a no-brainer based on Groome’s upside, but his continued development at Boston’s alternate training site remains extremely important given that he missed all of 2018 and most of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

“This is a tough time because he’s missed a whole season, and throughout his career, he’s battled some injuries,” Pawtucket manager Billy McMillon told reporters Monday on a video conference call. “So, getting him in a game-like situation I think, one, is very important. And two, I think this gives him a taste of what the upper levels of the game is going to be like. I think there were some nerves out there, some rust. But overall, I liked what I saw. I thought he competed well. And guys were really talking about his breaking ball and how effective he was.”

MLB Pipeline recently ranked Groome, who turns 22 this month, the No. 7 prospect in the Red Sox’s system, one spot behind right-handed pitcher Noah Song and one spot ahead of outfielder Jarren Duran.

It could be another year or two before Groome reaches the majors. For now, it’s all about racking up small victories and making an impression on the organization, something the young southpaw finally can do with regularity so long as he stays healthy.

“There’s a lot to like about Jay, and hopefully he uses this as a steppingstone to get him going and give him some confidence,” McMillon said after Groome’s appearance in Monday’s sim game.

Groome logged just four innings last season between rookie ball and Single-A Lowell, and the coronavirus pandemic obviously has created another hurdle in his development.

Still, Groome is progressing slowly but surely, with Monday’s sim game offering another reminder of perhaps the biggest wild card the Red Sox have in their pipeline as they continue to endure pitching struggles at the big league level.

“For him, getting on the bump, positive. Competing, positive,” McMillon said. “I think he walks away with this knowing that an adjustment here, an adjustment there, and that he can compete at the highest levels.”

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Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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