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2017 prospect rankings: 20-1

ESPN

This is it, the final score, and what seems to be my annual love letter to shortstops, with four of them in the top five this year -- a testament to the value of a player who can stay at the infield's most challenging position and provide some offense as well.

Most of these names will be familiar to you already, either because they've been on these lists before, because they've appeared in the majors already (six of them, including the top two) or because they've been traded recently (four). The one thing they all have in common is that they all look likely to become stars once they reach their major league peaks.

Editor's note: Age is the player's age as of July 1, 2017.

Top 100 prospects ranked 1-20 | 21-40 | 41-60 | 61-80 | 81-100 | Index


20. Jason Groome, LHP, Boston Red Sox

Age: 18 (8/23/98) | B/T: L/L

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 220

Top level: Short-season A-ball | 2016: NE

Groome was the No. 2 player on my board in the 2016 draft, but he slipped to the Red Sox at the 12th pick overall because of concerns about his signability and off-field questions, which allowed Boston to take a lefty with one of the best curveballs I’ve ever seen from a high-schooler.

Groome is a good athlete with a very easy delivery, sitting 90-94 mph pretty regularly with projection to get up to the mid-90s on his fastball in time, something he has only done before when pitching in short stints. The curveball is a hammer, a grade-70 pitch he can throw for strikes that will buckle a lot of knees in A-ball this year, though I would guess the Red Sox will ask him to throw it less often to work on fastball command and develop his untrained changeup.

His arm works well, and he has the size to work downhill with his fastball, one of the aspects lacking from his game at the moment. He’s still relatively unpolished and probably four years away from the majors, so there’s a higher flameout or injury risk -- maybe 30 percent or so -- than there is for other arms in this region of the rankings. I’ll still take a big lefty with an out pitch curveball and potential for a grade-55 or better fastball any day of the week.