Jason Groome, the top prospect in the 2016 Major League Baseball draft made his 2016 season debut on Tuesday afternoon. The left handed pitcher took the mound for Barnegat High School with dozens of scouts on hand to watch and he didn’t disappoint, according to Hudson Belinsky of Baseball America.
Belinsky was also in attendance for the game, in which the 17-year-old Groome threw 4.0 shutout innings with just one hit, one walk and he hit one batter to go along with 10 strikeouts.
It was a cold day in New Jersey, roughly 40° at game time. The left handed starter threw his fastball in the 91-93 MPH range at the start of the game, but his velocity dipped to 86-89 MPH in his final inning of work. He needed just 59 pitches to complete his day thanks to good control, a strong fastball and a hard biting curveball in the mid-to-upper 70’s that was described as being plus on the day.
There were about 150 “baseball professionals” at the game according to one article, including three members of the Philadelphia Phillies front office staff (including former Reds scout and now director of scouting for the Phillies Johnny Almaraz).
The Phillies have been linked to lefties Groome and Florida’s A.J. Puk since last season for the first overall pick. Puk has certainly showed more velocity this spring, granted he’s played in much better weather than what Groome had to pitch in yesterday. The Florida lefty has had plenty of struggles this season though, while the first start by Groome went about as well as it could.
With the second overall pick in the draft, the Cincinnati Reds will clearly be looking at Jason Groome over the next two months. He’s got huge upside with two plus pitches already in his arsenal. His change up isn’t on par with the other two pitches, but he will show it at times. Mix that in with his size, 6′ 6″ and 220 lbs and you’ve got just about everything that you would like to see from a top end draft pick.