Welcome to BP Boston’s second annual Roster Recap series. Over the next few months, we’ll be analyzing every player on Boston’s 40-man roster and many of their top prospects in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the Red Sox roster’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as what we can expect moving forward. From MVP-candidate right fielders to reserve relievers, we want to give you a look at every Red Sox who might matter in 2017. View the complete list of Roster Recaps here. Enjoy!
When he was picked it looked like just another pitching prospect in a system full of them. However, since that time last June, Jason Groome has emerged as the best pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system. Thing is, that emerging wasn’t due to anything he did during that time. Instead, it was “Deal’n Dave” Dombrowski who traded away half the Red Sox prospects, including anything approaching competition for the then-17-year-old lefty, that vaulted Groome into pole position.
Even so, at just 17 (he’ll be 18 this year), Groome isn’t ready for High-A let alone the majors. Also, considering who is running the show, there’s a better chance Groome makes his major league debut wearing a different team’s hat rather than one with the familiar red ‘B.’ Until one of those days arrives though, Groome is the man-child of the moment, the underage can’t-rent-a-car-yet player Red Sox Nation can get hot and bothered over for the foreseeable future. Or until Dombrowski needs a middle reliever in July.
WHAT WENT RIGHT IN 2016
Groome was drafted. Actually, that didn’t really go right, for Groome at least. For the Red Sox though it was a bit of a boon. Groome was rated as one of if not the best player available in the draft and as such was expected to go in the first few picks. The Phillies were reportedly talking about selecting him first overall. Instead, he was still on the board when the Red Sox took their turn at 12. To their credit they didn’t try to get cute or save money. They took the best player. The slip was reportedly due to makeup concerns; Groome just couldn’t seem to master rouge or the finer points of eye liner. No matter, the Red Sox gave him lots of money and now he can afford to take all the lessons he wants.
In the end though Groome was drafted, signed, and started his pro career with the organization he grew up rooting for. His big frame, fast fastball, and what Keith Law called the best amateur curveball he ever saw hold the vast promise of not just a big league career, but All Star-level success. Not bad. All in all, probably a better 2016 than most.
WHAT WENT WRONG IN 2016
Nothing in particular. When a guy with three pro starts to his name stays healthy there’s not much to point to on either side of the ledger. Groome started twice for the Red Sox Rookie team in the Gulf Coast League, and did fine. In 6.2 innings he struck out 10 and walked four while giving up three hits and two runs. What does that mean? In 2002 an 18-year-old Jon Lester gave up six runs on five hits in 0.2 of an inning for the Gulf Coast Red Sox. Which is to say it means nothing. Nothing at all.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2017
In addition to his two starts in the Gulf Coast League, Groome got one start in for Lowell at the end of last season. That’s likely where he’ll begin his age-18 season in 2017. With any luck, he’ll move up to A-Ball in Greenville at some point. As for what to look for, watch the strikeouts and walks. Command is the hardest part of pitching, especially for young pitchers who throw hard (Groome has been clocked in the upper 90s but realistically his fastball sits low-to-mid 90s). If he can command his fastball and secondary pitches he could move rather quickly, especially considering the current Red Sox front office isn’t afraid to push young players if their performance justifies it. If nothing else, Groome offers a fun check-in while you have your morning coffee before that annoying meeting where Bob from accounting drones on and on about TPS reports or whatever. The new best pitching prospect in Boston’s system’s first full season is at hand.
Photo by Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports Images