Red Sox Prospect Jay Groome on His Learning Curve

Jay Groome recently found himself in the news for reasons not of his doing. Thirteen months ago, he was in the news for reasons that were: the 6-foot-6 left-hander was drafted 12th overall by the Red Sox out of a New Jersey high school. He could have gone even higher. As our own Eric Longenhagen wrote this spring, Groome was “arguably the most talented prospect in the 2016 draft.”

Given his age and experience level, it is very much raw talent. The 18-year-old southpaw has just 10 professional games under his belt, the last four of which have come with Low-A Greenville. Groome’s calling card is a curveball that Longenhagen called “potential plus-plus,” and his fastball has been clocked as high as 97 mph.

Groome talked about his nascent development — and his power repertoire — in late June.

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Groome on having a simple approach: “Everything I’ve learned — everything I know — comes from my father, or from myself, just trying to perfect my craft. I’ve always done what feels good for me and what looks good. I just throw all of my pitches.

“A couple of times on the showcase circuit they would have the Trackman, but I never paid attention to it. I’ve never looked into what my spin rate is, or anything like that. I’m not a big physics guy on how all that stuff translates to them hitting the ball or not hitting the ball. I just go out there and throw the ball and try to hit my spots; and if they hit it, they hit it, and if they don’t, they don’t.”

On transitioning from a thrower to a pitcher: “I 100% know how to pitch. I’d say I transitioned after my freshman year. I was 14 at the time and threw in the mid-80s. That got it done in high school, but once I got to the showcase circuit… you couldn’t just throw 88-90 down the middle. You had to have a changeup or a curveball to back it up, at least. And location is key for me. If I hit my spots, it will work out.

“I’m not a 98-100 guy. I’m more 90-94, maybe touching 95 or 96. It’s a lot different in pro ball, because you can’t overpower somebody with 92 unless you set them up to overpower them, or if it’s high in the zone, or in where they can’t get their hands around on it. There are times and places for me to try to overpower guys, but that’s not something I want to focus on right now. Control of all of my pitches is what I need to focus on.

“I have a plan in my head. I usually try to not let guys see both of my offspeed pitches the first time around. I go after them with my fastball. Or, if I’m facing the three- or four-hole hitter, I don’t want to show them my curveball or my changeup more than twice in an at-bat. I try to get them out with my fastball, and if that’s working, I’ll stick with it. If I need to get a punch-out, or if I think he’s on my fastball, I’ll throw a changeup or a curveball. Mostly I just try to get ahead, stay ahead, and hopefully put them out.”

On his fastball and his changeup: “I’m fairly equal with four-seams and two-seams. It depends on whether it’s a righty or a lefty. I usually tend to go away with a two-seam to righties, and in to a lefty with my two-seam. How much movement I get kind of depends on the day, honestly — how well I’m finishing my pitches. Sometimes I get that good depth and run. The four-seam is for when I’m going in to a righty or if I need to elevate. Or, if I just need to throw a strike, I’ll go to it then.

“I’m still working on my changeup. I’m kind of fiddling around with it, but it’s a four-seam circle. It’s a tough pitch for me to learn. I throw some good ones and I throw some bad ones. But that’s like everyone: you’re not going to have every pitch, every time out. You’ve got to battle with what you’re got that day and, for me, that’s usually my fastball and my curveball.”

On his curveball and his competitiveness: “My fastball and curveball are very similar out of the hand. From what I’ve seen on video, and from what I’ve heard from friends who have hit against me — they say that sometimes it’s unhittable. I try to elevate some fastballs, because my curveball is 12-to-6. Sometimes hitters see something they think is a fastball up, and it drops right down. I like to change eye levels.

“I vary my curveball sometimes. I tend to throw it harder when there are two strikes, or if I know the guy will chase in the dirt. For the most part, if I’m throwing it first pitch, it will be in the range of 73-75. If I really want to get it low in the zone, or punch someone out, it’s in the range of 77-80.

“I just like to go out there and compete. I leave it all on the field. I never want to come away from a start thinking, ‘I wish I’d have done this to the three-hole hitter; I wish I’d have done this to the eight-hole hitter.’ I don’t want to doubt myself out there. I want to just go out there and pitch.”

We hoped you liked reading Red Sox Prospect Jay Groome on His Learning Curve by David Laurila!

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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from February 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Shauncore
Member
Shauncore

Random but does he go by Jay Groome? In the draft it feels like he always was listed and went by Jason Groome.

MSU_Spartans21
Member
MSU_Spartans21

Hey probably wants to distance himself from the name right now.