Top Draft pick Groome set to debut in GCL

Top Draft pick Groome set to debut in GCL

Red Sox first-round Draft pick Jason Groome is expected to make his much-anticipated professional debut next Monday for the club's Gulf Coast League affiliate.

Groome, who was taken with the 12th overall pick in June's Draft, is one of three first rounders who haven't yet made their pro debut, along with the Marlins' Braxton Garrett and the Mets' Anthony Kay. Groome reported to Fort Meyers, Fla., nearly a month ago, but he has yet to pitch in a game.

The tentative plan is for Groome to pitch against the GCL Rays on Monday, depending on how his bullpen session goes later this week.

The club has not confirmed that Groome will start on Monday.

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"Obviously, with an elite talent like Jay, we're going to be extremely conservative right out of the gate," said Red Sox director of amateur scouting Mike Rikard after Groome signed with Boston. "As you can probably tell just from hearing the tone of his voice, he's champing at the bit to get going, and we want to get him out there and get his feet under him, get him on our throwing program and certainly get him headed in the right direction as soon as possible."

Groome, 17, agreed a $3.65 million contract -- well above his $3.19 million slot value at No. 12 overall and a club Draft record for a pitcher -- on July 15, the deadline for clubs to sign their Draft picks. He ranked No. 1 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 200 Draft prospects list entering the Draft, but fell to the Red Sox due to concerns over his signability and perhaps some questions about his makeup.

"It's kind of tough when people are saying stuff like that … but there's nothing you can do about it," Groome said. "If you know it's not true, then it's not true. You just go about your day and keep playing baseball."

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound left-hander has spent the past month immersed in the club's throwing program and has thrown a few bullpen sessions.

Groome's fastball sits at 90-94 mph, but it has reportedly hit up to 97 mph and could climb further as he gets stronger. His curveball has been touted as arguably the best breaking ball in this year's Draft, and he's developing a changeup that has shown promising sink.

"I think I'm more likely ready because I trust my stuff," Groome said after signing his deal. "I've talked to a few of my agent's other clients that are in pro ball, and they said if you pitch and do your thing then you'll get outs and you'll be successful. That's what I'm keeping in my head, so when I get out there, I'm just going to compete, throw strikes and try to get outs and get a win."

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.