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Bryan Mauro
Contributing Writer

Photo courtesy of the Press of Atlantic City
“With the 12th pick in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft the Boston Red Sox select Jason Groome, left handed pitcher, Barnegat High School, Barnegat, New Jersey.” This phrase would change Jason Groome’s life forever. I conducted an interview with Michael McGarry, a writer for the Press of Atlantic City, and was able to get insight into this seventeen year old phenome’s high school career all the way up to draft day.

McGarry has covered Groome since his sophomore year of high school at Barnegat. This is when things really started to get going for Jason Groome. Every time he would take the mound there were numerous reporters at the game, all trying to catch a glimpse of the curveball. McGarry was quoted as saying “Every time he threw the curveball, the entire crowd would gasp.” The scouts started to show up after his last game of his sophomore year in a regional game. Groome had pitched really well - a complete game with numerous strikeouts. He was keeping kids off balance that day. McGarry recalled the event as such, “Even though Groome took a 1-0 loss, you could tell he was going to be something special, and we all knew he would be drafted.” Groome also must have known as he took his talents south to Florida to pitch at the IMG Academy. He would soon return home to Barnegat to spend his senior year.

Photo courtesy of the Press of Atlantic City
Jason Groome would now be the most popular pitcher in South Jersey. Every game he pitched there were reporters, pro scouts, and numerous fans in attendance. He pitched so well at the beginning of the year that he was ranked as the number 1 draft prospect in all of baseball. If he was the number 1 draft prospect by many outlets, then why did he slip to the 12th pick of the draft? The MLB Network and other draft analysts cited “character flaws” and signability as the main reasons he fell. McGarry didn’t see it that way. “Every interaction I had with Groome was a positive one. You have to understand he didn’t have a normal high school career. He never pitched to a small crowd. After the games he never had any issue taking about 10 minutes to talk to reporters and scouts. His body language on the mound, especially after getting hit around, was always positive and he seemed to be a good teammate and a team leader. However, I was only around him during baseball games.” As all Red Sox fans know, Groome waited until the last day to sign, and a lot of fans were worried that he may not sign at all. McGarry talked to the Groome camp and reported to me, “I was never worried about him signing. This was his one chance to cash in and get some money to be able to take care of his family. He’s 17 years old and won’t sign another contract until he is arbitration eligible most likely.” McGarry also said, “The Red Sox were trying to sign all of their top 10 picks, but they were very conscious about putting more money aside for Groome to sign him over slot. The Red Sox handled him and the situation with class, and knew exactly how they were going to handle this.”

Jason Groome may have been the happiest a deal was done. Not only was he going to live out his dream of one day pitching in the big leagues, but he grew up a Red Sox fan, especially Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez. As he has gotten older, he has taken a liking to Dustin Pedroia and David Price. In fact, David Price, a Vanderbilt grad, gave Groome some advice before the start of his senior year. Jason Groome was also signed to play baseball at Vanderbilt. Groome was one of the lone Red Sox fans in his town, as he lives 60 miles from Philadelphia and about an hour an a half from New York. The Red Sox drafting Groome was a perfect storm.

Jason Groome is currently on the roster for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox. The GCL Sox play their games at the Red Sox spring training facility in Fort Myers. He has yet to pitch, but the Red Sox have expressed their desire to get him up to Lowell at some point before their season ends. McGarry let me know that he has not thrown a pitch from the middle of May until now, at least in a game. The Red Sox have also expressed their interest in having him pitch in the Arizona Fall League. The Red Sox are obviously going to protect their investment.

Photo courtesy of the Press of Atlantic City
The Red Sox did their homework with Groome. He is 6’6” tall and throws an upper 90's fastball to complement his curveball. Some MLB analysts have been quoted as saying that he has one of the best curveballs they have ever seen. The ball seems to explode out of his hand, so it doesn’t take much effort for him to throw the ball. Oh, and did I mention he is left handed? He is also very comfortable pitching in front of large crowds. He was on the mound during the highest attended high school baseball game in New Jersey where there were about 6500 people. He got used to talking to the media during his tenure in high school, so the constant media coverage in Boston should be no problem. He was only the second player drafted in Barnegat history. However, he is the most touted prospect to come out of the school. He has accomplished all of this before his 18th birthday. I can not wait to watch him take the mound for the Red Sox for years to come.

Follow Bryan on twitter - @threecolorbeard.

Jim Monaghan 8/07/2016 08:14:00 AM Edit
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