So many expected so much from Jay Groome when he was taken with the 12th overall pick in 2016.
By the time 2021 rolled around the big lefty would surely be a staple in the Red Sox’ rotation, possessing the kind of talent and potential many believed should have put Groome at least in the Draft’s Top 10.
But we know the story. One injury here. A Tommy John surgery there. And finally what was supposed to be his springboard minor-league season wiped out due to COVID-19. What the Red Sox are left with when it comes to Groome is a pitcher who still looks the part, but has pitched just 66 total professional innings (and just four since 2017).
There is still hope, however.
First, understand that there hasn’t exactly been a tidal wave of high school pitchers to make the majors from that 2016 Draft. A total of five, to be exact — Ian Anderson (Braves, 3rd overall), Braxton Garrett (Marlins, 7th), Jesus Lazardo (Natonals, 94th), Dustin May (Dodgers, 101st), and Bryse Wilson (Braves, 109th).
And then there is what transpired at the Red Sox’ alternate site over the past couple of months.
“Another kid with a lot of talent. I think there is more too,” said Worcester Red Sox pitching coach Paul Abbott. “When he comes into spring training next year he’s going to have a lot of confidence. He grew a lot. I mention the younger guys being around older guys — even though he’s not that young anymore, just seeing how some of the older guys who have big league time work is of immense value to him. To see how they did it. He made some adjustments in his routine and his bullpens that I think we will really help accelerate him to the higher levels.”
It appears like it would be a forgone conclusion that the 22-year-old Groome will be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, keeping him away from a selection in the Rule 5 Draft.
And with that spot on the roster, and potentially a bigger stage to showcase his progression during next year’s Grapefruit League, things could start to trend back in the direction so many predicted a few years ago.
“We talk about where do we slot guys, next year it’s going to be a tough one to figure out where he starts,” Abbott explained. “There’s three pitches. Smooth delivery. Everything is there. Now it’s just a matter of getting in that real setting of a real season.”