Boston lands Pipeline's top-ranked prospect

Lefty Groome, a Red Sox fan, sports one of Draft's highest ceilings

Boston lands Pipeline's top-ranked prospect

BOSTON -- Jason Groome, the ultra-talented lefty who was taken with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 Draft on Thursday, has been known to go into Yankee Stadium as a spectator wearing Red Sox gear.

The 17-year-old New Jersey native can now be even prouder of his favorite team. It was the Red Sox who pounced on Groome with their first selection.

"It's a crazy feeling just hearing my name get called, especially by the Red Sox," Groome said in a conference call that consisted of New Jersey media as well as "It was the best experience of my life. It was a dream come true. When [the Red Sox] were coming up, my family was like, 'Jay, they're going to pick you.' I was texting a friend back and all of a sudden I heard my name and me and my family, we just went nuts at my cousin's house. It was an awesome experience."

Groome, who is 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, was projected by many to be selected with one of the top few picks in the Draft. Groome entered the Draft ranked atop's Top 200 Prospects list, though he was not projected to go first overall in MLBPipeline's most recent mock Draft.

"Just because people say something doesn't mean it's going to happen," said Groome. "I worked my tail off to get where I am, and I couldn't be any happier where I got picked."

The southpaw, a senior at Barnegat (N.J.) High School, who has committed to Chipola College (Fla.), has been clocked in the upper 90s and possesses a strong curveball as well as a changeup that has the potential to be a big weapon.

"He's got really good stuff," said Red Sox director of amateur scouting Mike Rikard. "He's got a big fastball, a good curveball and he can throw his changeup for strikes as well. He's a big, durable guy, and he's got a nice delivery. He throws the ball easy and he's a strike thrower as well, so we do see him as a starter."

Despite his commitment to Chipola, Groome sounds determined to wind up with the Red Sox.

"That's something me and my advisor are going to discuss for the time being," said Groome. "Money doesn't really matter to me. I'm just happy to start the next chapter of my life, and that's playing professional baseball."

So how did a kid who grew up in Yankees country become a Red Sox fan?

"I always liked Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez," said Groome. "I always liked Fenway Park. Everyone in my family is a Yankees fan. I always tended to like the Red Sox fans a little bit better. I've just taken them as my best team. Dustin Pedroia is my favorite player just because of his work ethic, and David Price, who I like to model myself after, as well."

While the Red Sox have a farm system loaded with potential star position players, a stud pitcher has been a clear need.

"We're very excited," said Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen. "Our guys did such good work on this. We had him rated very high up our board. You know what it takes to compete in the American League East and the stuff that it takes. We feel, obviously, he's got a development path he's going to have to go through, but we saw the upside here of a guy that could pitch in this rotation someday."

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET. With their second-round selection, the Red Sox took Florida Atlantic University shortstop C.J. Chatham.

Groome pitched at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for his junior year and moved back to his native New Jersey to finish his high school career.

2016 Draft: Jason Groome, LHP

Two weeks into his senior season, and a week after a 19-strikeout no-hitter, Groome was ruled ineligible for 30 days because he'd violated a New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association transfer rule despite returning to his parents' home and former school.

After returning from his suspension, Groome took a while to regain his groove.

While things didn't go perfectly for Groome in his senior year, he had no regrets by Thursday night.

"I really didn't feel that bad because everything happens for a reason," Groome said. "I always said I just wanted to end up somewhere I'm comfortable and feel protected. Like I said, there's no other spot to do that than Boston. They're my favorite team."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.