Barnegat, New Jersey, High School lefty Jason Groome is the top pitching prospect in this draft class, prep or college, and that's not just due to the tragicomic rate of attrition of arms this year. Groome made a short start Tuesday in unseasonably cold weather in front of a large crowd of scouts, and he more than lived up to the expectations he set for himself last summer.
Groome wasn't throwing at full effort while working in 45-degree weather in his second real outing of the year and on a 60-pitch limit, working 89-93 mph, with one 94 in the first inning and an 88 or two in his last inning. The curveball was the standout pitch, however, easily plus, a 65 or 70 grade (on the 20-80 scouting scale) if you're a generous grader (and I am when the curveball looks like this). He also threw two changeups that were both at worst solid-average, with some downward fade on the harder one at 82 mph. At whatever effort level Groome was throwing on Tuesday, his delivery looked great, as he stays over the rubber a long time, takes a long step-over stride, and gets some extension over his front side. He threw strikes all day, and his command of the curveball was especially impressive and further along than his command of the fastball.
He's going to be in the mix for every team from the first pick on down -- Phillies GM Matt Klentak was there, as were at least six other scouting directors, including the teams drafting 2 (Reds) and 3 (Atlanta) -- but will have to face industry bias against high-school pitchers at the top of the draft as well as the desire for the higher floors of college bats like Louisville's Corey Ray.