By Bob Behre
Sometimes the greatest gift a major prospect can receive is to be taken under wing by a superstar teammate. Barnegat’s Jay Groome, the Boston Red Sox’s top prospect, has received such a gift.
Chris Sale, the American League’s Cy Young Award runner-up in 2017, invited Groome, off a spotty 2017 season marked by injury, to work out with him in the off-season. As reported by MLB.com’s Ian Browne, “Sale wants to make sure the ultra-talented 19- year-old gets the most out of his considerable ability.
Groome was drafted No. 12 overall by the Red Sox in the 2016 MLB Draft after wowing pro scouts during a dominating scholastic career that included a stop during his junior year at IMG Academy in Florida. But the big lefty with the big bonus money posted a 3-9 record with a 5.69 ERA last summer in 14 starts over 55.1 innings. He was sidelined for two months after suffering a left lat injury during his first start of the season.
Groome would make four starts for Class A Short-Season Lowell and 10 starts for Class A Greenville.
Sale, who lives close to the Red Sox’s spring training facility in Southwest Florida, heard Groome was relocating to Fort Meyers for the off-season. “I figured, hey, you know, young guy in our organization, all the talent in the world,” Sale said during the Red Sox’s Winter Weekend last Saturday. “I mean, the kid’s been throwing 98 since he was 14. He’s got all the tools. I’m not reconstructing this guy. I’m just working out with him and picking his brain a little bit, just trying to maximize his potential.”
Browne reports, “Sale’s intense offseason workouts are legendary. For Groome to tag along at this stage of his development can only be a good thing.”
Says Sale, "It's been fun. He's done a really good job. It's fun to see. He's young and this is his first go at it. I'm just trying to get him prepared and show him, 'Hey, this is what it takes to get through a big league season.' He's got all the tools you can possibly ask for. That guy is an animal. Just trying to give him some ins and outs and try to get him here sooner rather than later.
“He's young and it's great just being able to show him on this platform what it takes and the work that goes in. You can't just roll out of bed and expect to go out and be effective. Just being able to talk to him, tell him what to expect and what to be ready for. He's been getting after it. He's a good kid."
Another New Jersey product and a former Super 17 player out of Diamond Nation, righthander Rick Porcello is about to begin his fourth season with the Red Sox. The Seton Hall Prep product has also joined Sale and Groome for workouts. Porcello, like Groome and Sale, was a first round draft pick and also has a reputation for getting after it in the offseason and for being ultimately prepared. The durable Porcello has never made fewer than 28 starts in his nine big league seasons.
"We work out Monday nights," said Sale. "And then me, Rick and Jay do Pilates on Wednesdays. And then me and Jay work out Thursday and Friday. So about four times a week."
MLB Pipeline says Groome “is on track for a full and healthy 2018. Boston’s 2016 first-rounder will likely spend most of 2018, if not all, in A-ball between Greenville and High-A Salem. Could be a 2-3 starter but MLB ETA is 2020 at the earliest.”