Jason Groome, a New Jersey high school pitcher who is considered the odds-on favorite to be the top pick in this year’s draft, will not be pitching for his high school team for a while. He was ruled ineligible by the body which governs high school athletics in New Jersey for violating transfer rules.
Groome pitched last year at at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, which is basically a boarding school for sports prospects. His family didn’t change permanent addresses, however, and he decided that he wanted to pitch this year back home with his high school friends rather than return to IMG. For these purposes, the governing board ruled that he hadn’t transferred the same way that a kid who simply moved did and thus he was required to sit out half the season. He didn’t do that, and now he’s ineligible and his records on the year have been erased, including a 19-strikeout, 90-pitch no-hitter he threw this past Monday. He can return once he has missed half of his team’s games.
I’m of two minds here. On the one hand, it’s lame that a kid can’t play baseball. On the other hand, parents of elite athletes have to have some sort of check on them because, if given the chance, they would absolutely switch their kids from school to school each year if doing so maximized their kids’ athletic opportunities. Sports parents are pretty terrible when given the chance to be. It’s also worth noting that the main voice speaking up in the kids’ defense is an agent. There are a lot of interests behind Groome who aren’t involved here simply because a boy wants to play with his friends.
Ultimately this probably won’t matter a ton. Groome is six-foot, five inches, throws a 97 mph fastball and has a plus curveball. He was ranked as the No. 1 overall draft prospect last month by Baseball America. That shouldn’t change.