Jay Groome looked like the real deal coming out of the 2016 MLB Draft, as the 12th overall pick by the Red Sox coming out of Barnegat High School in Barnegat Township, New Jersey. A blazing fastball that topped out in the high 90’s with solid control of his off-speed pitches. He fits the build of a future ace in a rotation; 6’ 6” right hander with a 220 lb. frame. For Red Sox, fans this seems all too familiar. Another promising young pitcher taken early in the draft to be the ‘Ace’ for years to come. Names that come to mind are 2011 36th overall pick Henry Owens, who, to say the least, has not been good, as he’s bounced between short stints in the majors and seems to have hit his ceiling in AAA. He’s now a free agent. Another name that comes to mind is 2013 7th overall pick Trey Ball III, who just did not pan out as a pitcher, and neither did the experiment to try to convert him to an outfielder because he showed he could hit in high school. Groome came back in 2019 from Tommy John surgery but only made four starts. It is still up in there as to what kind of pitcher he is. Is he the player after Tommy John, pitching to a 2.25 ERA? Or is he the player before, pitching to a 6.70 ERA in A ball? Sure, the Red Sox have had some success developing pitchers. However, they seem to never be the pitcher they believe in. Names include Matt Barnes, Michael Kopech (who seems to be the real deal now with the Chicago White Sox), Clay Buchholz, and international ‘phenom’ Daisuke Matsuzaka. With the track record that the Sox have in the development of young pitchers, there is serious doubt that Jay Groome will be anything more than another name with the Red Sox.
The talent of Jay Groome is undeniable. However, the development track record is not. There should not be concern with Groome, 22-years-old and not at the Major League level. Jacob deGrom made his debut for the Mets at 25 (almost 26) years old. The concern should be with the player development team within the Red Sox organization. I understand that this isn’t a video game, and that they are human people and yes, sometimes players do not pan out as well as you think they will, or they are more than you ever thought they’d be. However, what is the explanation for the continued lack of success in Boston. Bad luck? Maybe. Poor developmental system or poor scouting? I think that this is the issue.
I do not know what goes on in the Red Sox farm system in regards to player development. The Red Sox seem to be able to develop young position players, and develop them through the strengths that they already have, with names like Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts, and Bobby Dalbec in recent years. But why not pitching? There needs to be an overhaul of the development system by the Red Sox. When you draft young pitchers this high, they need to pan out in some way. I am not talking about some sort of science experiment of turning a guy into a two-way player because they hit a little bit in High School. This is professional baseball, not MLB The Show, seeing where someone could fit on the roster.
We have seen flashes of what Groom could be with the Red Sox. In 2016 in seven starts, he pitched to around a 3.00 ERA. We’ve seen flashes of concern, when in 2017 he pitched to just about a 6.00 ERA in 28 starts. The Red Sox need to take a serious look at player development. This isn’t bad luck, these young pitchers are doomed from the start. The only way Jay Groome becomes the player that he can be with the Red Sox… sign him in free agency! You seem to be plenty good at paying for other teams’ talent… mainly because you can’t develop your own.