A look at how the Red Sox are handling top prospect Jay Groome

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Just when Jay Groome was finally ready to get going baseball stopped.

Now he is in somewhat of sprint trying to make up for lost time.

The Red Sox' first-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft has started just a total of 20 games in his minor-league career, having been derailed the last few years due to Tommy John surgery. But 2020 was going to be when he hit the ground running. That, of course, became not an option due to baseball's COVID-19-induced hiatus.

But the 21-year-old Groome has been given an opportunity by the organization to at least try and take steps forward this season.

The 6-foot-6 lefty is part of the Red Sox' taxi squad, rounding out the club's 60-player pool, which has been working out at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. But Groome, the least experienced of any of the participants, has yet to pitch in any of the intrasquad scrimmages or simulated games. Why? Pawtucket Red Sox pitching coach Paul Abbott explained ...

"He’s missed a lot of time, obviously," Abbott said of Groome, who appeared in three minor-league games in 2019 after not having pitched since 2017. "He doesn’t really have a routine and is probably one that you probably need to pitch in an upper-level. His bullpens are very conservative. They are very deliberate. We just kind of wanted him to get a little bit more aggressive in his bullpens before he goes up there because when he gets up there and pitches in an inning … he’s probably pitching in a five-effort level in the bullpen but we need to try and get him to a 10. We just want to see him get closer to a 10 in the bullpens. He’s looked good in his last couple of side sessions and he’s ready to take the next step which is a live BP and then an inning."

Abbott later explained what he meant about the increased bullpen intensity and its importance, "Not that he’s being cautious because of his past with his injuries, I think he hasn’t learned how to take his bullpens and let the intensity in his bullpens get closer to how he would be pitching in a game. … Nothing that he is holding back. Nothing that he is guarding. I think it’s just the routine that he had when he was younger. That’s something that we also haven’t been able to see in him development because he hasn’t been on the mound until now. We just wanted to have him get some more intensity in his side work and then get him on the mound so he’s completely ready."

Groome is getting closer to his big chance to face hitters in one of the group's simulated games, first throwing a live batting practice Tuesday.

"For him, for his own development, these six weeks we have remaining here is going to be really important for him to see how pitchers are working versus hitters," Abbott explained. "It’s been a long time since he’s been out on the mound in a consistent manner. He has to go through some normal pitching pains that when you get taxed and you pitch in a game with effort and you get a little soreness the next day and you’ve got to throw a side being sore and you get in a game, that’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve for him because he hasn’t done it in a long time. And then to see how his pitchers against Triple-A hitters, big-league hitters. It’s going to be good for him and also give us kind of a strategy or an approach to see what we need to do for him to take the next step. Obviously he needs to log innings. He has missed some valuable development period for him to get on the mound and learn how to pitch as you go every step of the way. Here’s a way how everything is looking, how everything is working so we have a good, solid idea going into spring training next year."

Here are all the pitches Jason Groome threw today in his first chance to face batters while living life in the player pool (Thanks to @PawSox Facebook stream) pic.twitter.com/j1WB3oyldJ

— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) August 4, 2020

For more on Groome's path, click here to read an interview he conducted with WEEI in spring training.