Before his Junior year of high school, left-handed pitcher and Vanderbilt recruit, Jason Groome went to his parents and asked to move from New Jersey to Florida to focus on improving his game. He wanted to attend the IMG academy and get elite training from the top sports academy in the country.
It is clear his goals are centered around baseball, when asked what he plans to study if he attends Vanderbilt, he said “I want to be become a teacher, so down the road I can become a coach”. Chances are he won’t need to become a teacher to have a career in baseball, as he is currently a consensus top 10 prospect in the 2016 draft, and has a real chance to be the number one overall selection.
When asked why Groome wanted to go to make the move to the IMG academy, he said “I wanted to get my mind and body where it needed to be…I wanted to get bigger stronger and faster,” and he has done just that.
His Perfect Game profile has him listed as a 6’6” and 180 lbs., but he is actually bigger. “6’6”is right but not the 180 lbs., I am 220 lbs.” he told me, “I put on about 18 lbs. (at IMG) and my velocity increased” In addition to having the size of a front line pitcher despite not turning 17 until August (will be one of the youngest players in the draft next year), he has the pitch mix to go with it. He has a two-seam, four-seam, and running fastball along with a curve and a change. His fastball sits 91-94 and has touched 97 several times. What is even more with the fastball is how easy a delivery he has. A smooth, easy, and repeatable delivery had scouts buzzing at the recent Tournament of the Stars.
His curve is a pitch with plus potential that has excellent spin and comes out of the same arm slot as the fastball. His change is, admittedly, the pitch that needs the most work. “I kinda spike it a lot, I just need to stay through it, it is the pitch I always work on most in my bullpen…it is a work in progress but sooner or later it will come along”
One thing that was surprising when watching the tape on Groome was the fact he is a lefty who works from the third base side of the rubber rather than the first base side to get cross plate action. “It helps me pound the inside corner and when I throw my two-seamer or running fastball it cuts across the plate to get inside to the lefty…I get a lot of movement on the ball when I am toward the right side of the rubber”.
What does he think of being mentioned as a 1-1 candidate, “It’s an honor to be known as a guy that can be the first overall pick.” But there is still work to be done and not just on the mound, “I work for it, I try to do as well in school as I do on the field.”