The Rode Show: Jason Groome Strikes Out 14

By Nathan Rode
National Supervisor

Going into the spring, the 2015 draft class was muddled at the top. Several prospects had their arguments for being high picks, but no one has truly separated themselves and some of those prospects have suffered injuries that bring more questions to their status. The 2016 class is looking good from the high school side and it’s hard not to look ahead at what it may offer in a year. LHP Jason Groome (IMG Academy, FL) is just one example and his stuff was on display in the IMG National Classic in a semifinal matchup against Hewitt-Trussville HS, AL.

A Vanderbilt recruit, Groome didn’t waste anytime establishing his fastball, sitting 93-95 mph and striking out the first two hitters. He hit the third batter, but quickly erased him on a pickoff. He then struck out the next four hitters, still sitting 92-94. He also went to his curveball a lot, which ranged from 70-75 and varied in shape between 1/7 and 2/8. It’s a sharp pitch with depth and projects to be an above-average offering down the road. He also mixed in a changeup at 77.

“I felt good coming out of the bullpen,” Groome said. “All my pitches were working for me. I flashed a couple more curveballs than changeups. I got a couple Ks on my changeup so that’s a good day. Overall, I felt pretty good.”

Groome got into a couple jams in the fourth and sixth innings, but managed to escape without giving up any runs. He came out after six innings, finishing with 14 strikeouts while allowing a hit, three walks and two hit batters. He lost the no-hitter on the first batter of the sixth inning and was sitting 89-91 by then, but still touching 93. He has a big, physical frame with projection remaining and is undoubtedly one of the top pitchers in the country. From New Jersey, he started attending IMG Academy this year and is adjusting to the change.

“It’s hard, but at the next level you’re going to be doing this all through the years,” Groome said. “Coming down here really helped me, knowing what it feels like. It is hard, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.”

IMG Academy pulled out the 4-0 win behind Groome’s pitching, but also got a boost from OF Eric Feliz, a Notre Dame recruit. Feliz tomahawked a home run in his first at-bat, a two-run shot off the scoreboard in left field and then doubled in two runs on a ball to left center. Feliz has a stocky frame and good bat speed.

South Hills HS, CA, was the first to punch a ticket into the championship game, beating George Jenkins HS, FL, 6-1. RHP Gavin Velasquez, a Cal State Fullerton recruit, got the start and pitched in the mid 80s and mixed in two breaking balls in the low 70s and mid 70s, as well as a 75-76 changeup with fade.

In a consolation game against Pelham HS, AL, Northside Christian HS, FL, sent 2018 RHP Nic Daniels to the mound. Daniels has a tall, projectable frame with broad shoulders and plenty of room to fill out. His fastball was 79-82 mph and he struggled to find the zone, walking three in the first inning and allowing a hit, but he has a loose, easy delivery and should be a follow for the future. He flashed a low-70s curveball with solid shape and a 77-78 breaking ball with more slider action.

The championship game of the IMG National Classic is set for Thursday at 4 p.m. EST between IMG Academy and South Hills. IMG Academy will send 2016 LHP Dion Henderson, a Kentucky recruit, to the mound while South Hills will counter with 2017 RHP John Dearth, a San Diego State recruit.

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