By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Jay Groome has undergone successful Tommy John surgery, ending the top prospect’s season and effectively earmarking his next meaningful pitching contributions for the 2020 season.
The team confirmed via multiple reports on Wednesday that Groome, 19, underwent the successful procedure on Tuesday in Los Angeles with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Based on the typical recovery time from Tommy John surgery, the earliest Groome could return to the mound would be late in the 2019 season in Single-A. Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal first reported last Wednesday that Groome needed the surgery.
The Red Sox originally drafted Groome 12th overall in the 2016 draft. Considered by some to be the top prospect in his draft class at one point, various injuries have slowed his early development. He last pitched in 2017, when he made 14 starts between the Salem Red Sox and Lowell Spinners.
Groome missed the end of the 2017 season with a flexor strain and also missed time with an intercostal strain. As per McAdam’s original report, Groome felt discomfort in his forearm and elbow to start the 2018 season, where he was expected to start with the Single-A Greenville Drive.
Tommy John surgery has become increasingly common for players in Groome’s age range. The American Journal of Sports Medicine published a study back in 2015, based on data from 2007-11, that found Tommy John surgery on the rise in players from 15-19 years old.
Former Red Sox prospect Anderson Espinoza also underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2017, also at age 19. He’s expected to miss the entire 2018 season for the Padres organization.
Despite going 12th overall two years ago, Groome was still generally considered a draft prospect whose stock had tumbled when the Red Sox selected him. He entered the draft amid unsubstantiated rumors about his off-field behavior and questions about his overall makeup. Groome’s father Jason was arrested on drug and weapon charges last July, but neither Jay nor anyone else in his immediate family was implicated in the case.
However, Groome should still have a chance to re-emerge as the Red Sox’ top pitching prospect when he returns. The 6-foot-6 lefty boasted a plus fastball and curve as he entered the organization, with a chance to develop other secondary pitches. Provided his recovery goes as it normally does, Groome’s early Tommy John surgery shouldn’t be considered a long-term concern at this point.
In the short-term, the news only burdens the Red Sox at this year’s trade deadline. Although they may not have been likely to trade Groome at all, they’ve been deprived of perhaps their top minor-league chip come July. Dave Dombrowski will have to dip into the farm system elsewhere if he wants to make a trade without subtracting from the major league roster.
But in all likelihood, Groome will remain the Red Sox’ responsibility as he recovers and looks to re-establish himself as a top prospect. It’ll be years before he realistically makes an impact on the major-league club, but his upside should still be there post-surgery.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.