New Jersey high school lefty Groome could be No. 1 in draft

Associated Press
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DEPTFORD, N.J. (AP) One of the quickest ways to get to the major leagues is to be a big left-handed pitcher with some pop on your fastball.

Jason Groome has that and more.

The 17-year-old from Barnegat High School along the New Jersey Shore is 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, throws in the 90s and has a deuce that falls off the table.

It’s everything baseball scouts want to see, and it’s one of the reasons he’s considered an early pick in baseball’s draft on Thursday night.

For a long time, many experts predicted that the Philadelphia Phillies would take him with the first selection. While that seems a little less likely now, expect Groome to be drafted early in the round.

“It would be awesome if I was top 10, not even, just to get drafted in the first round,” Groome said. “It would mean a lot, all the hard work had paid off. I mean, I’m just looking forward to what my career has in store.”

Groome was a draw in New Jersey this season. More than 5,000 fans attended a recent charity game in which he pitched against Gloucester Catholic, the top-ranked team in New Jersey. He lost 1-0, giving up an unearned run.

The big crowds, the scouts in the stands and the never-ending media attention were only part of the wild ride Groome had in his final season in high school.

This was a homecoming for him. He played his first two seasons with Barnegat and then attended IMG Academy in Florida for his junior season. A little homesick, he returned to the Garden State to finish his career with his friends.

Groome threw a no-hitter with 19 strikeouts early in the year and appeared on his way to a great season. It came to a screeching halt when the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association suspended him for 30 days for violating its transfer rule. Barnegat also had to forfeit the game.

“The suspension held off a couple of my starts,” Groome said. “I mean, I don’t really like to talk about that. I think what we did was great.”

Barnegat made the state playoffs and Groome’s high school career ended with a 2-1 loss to West Deptford in late May. He allowed two hits, struck out 12 and walked three in six innings in his final start. The two runs scored on a two-out, opposite-field single that was misplayed into a triple, and a throwing error on the relay back to the infield. The two hits were the only balls out of the infield.

“He is, by far, the best pitcher I have ever hit against and I have no doubt that he might be the hardest pitcher that I will ever face,” said West Deptford catcher Ryan Baglivo, who had the first-inning, game-winning triple.

“He is so fluid with his motion,” Baglivo added. “I watched a little bit of film trying to pick up tendencies and with the hand, the arm and the leg. I mean, he would slow up and hard out. His stride has to be 6 or 7 feet, and when that ball comes out of his hand, it just flies.”

Groome finished the season with a 2-3 record with a save, which includes the no-hitter. He had 90 strikeouts and 14 walks in 39 2/3 innings. He allowed 15 hits and gave up 10 runs, only five earned, finishing with a 0.77 ERA.

In the time leading to the draft, Groome planned to meet with the Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians, the teams with the fourth, eighth and 14th picks overall, respectively. He has already spoken with the Phillies. He also plans to work out in the gym and throw a little.

Turning pro will be a family decision, he said, adding that he wants to go somewhere where he feels comfortable and where he will be protected.

“If it doesn’t work out, it’s a win-win,” Groome said. “I get to go to Vanderbilt for three years and hopefully win the College World Series. Overall, I am just excited for what my future holds.”

Barnegat coach Dan McCoy said Groome’s future is bright. His son, Mark, also a pitcher, was drafted a couple of years ago and now plays with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

“He is in a different class,” McCoy said of Groome. “Jay is the top of the pyramid.”

He also could be top of the draft.

No lease extension, but O’s and governor tout partnership

orioles camden yards
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The Baltimore Orioles and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced a joint commitment to what they called a “multi-decade, public-private partnership” to revitalize the Camden Yards sports complex.

The statement from the team and the state’s new governor came Wednesday, the deadline for the Orioles to exercise a one-time, five-year extension to their lease at Camden Yards. The team was not planning to exercise that option, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club hadn’t announced its decision.

With no extension, the lease is set to expire at the end of this year, but the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority can keep negotiating. Wednesday’s joint release seemed to be an attempt to calm any nerves in Baltimore about the team’s future.

“I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the state of Maryland deserves,” Orioles CEO John Angelos said.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”

Republican Larry Hogan, the state’s previous governor, signed a bill last year increasing bond authorization for M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and Camden Yards. The measure allowed borrowing of up to $600 million for each stadium.

“When Camden Yards opened 30 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore, a Democrat, said Wednesday. “We share the commitment of the Orioles organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and are excited to advance our public-private partnership.”

Angelos recently reaffirmed that the Orioles would stay in Baltimore, although he dressed down a reporter who asked for more clarity on the future of the team’s ownership situation. Angelos was sued last year by his brother Lou, who claimed John Angelos seized control of the Orioles at his expense.