SoxProspects News

May 27, 2020 at 7:30 AM

Scouting Report Updates: Jay Groome headlines a group of pitchers


The latest SoxProspects scouting report update includes a sextet of pitchers, most notably Jay Groome, as well as infielder Nick Lovullo. Groome, Boston's 2016 first-round pick, has yet to stay consistently healthy since being drafted, but still maintains the highest ceiling of any pitching prospect in the system. At the conclusion of the 2020 season, the Red Sox front office will have a difficult decision to make in regards to whether Groome will be added to the 40-man roster. With a possible cancellation of the minor league season complicating his development curve further, Groome's status with the team will be a fascinating storyline to follow.

SoxProspects.com scouting reports are written by our scouting report team, led by Director of Scouting Ian Cundall.

Jay Groome, Left-handed pitcher

Physical Description: Strong pitcher's frame. Looks the part of someone who could throw 180 innings a year. Wide, mature body that looks all of his listed height and weight. Height is imposing on the mound. Body will need maintenance and bears watching as he matures. How his body develops will depend on how much work he puts in off the field both in-season and during the offseason. Came back from Tommy John surgery in late 2019 in excellent shape, visibly slimmed down.


Mechanics:
Controlled, repeatable delivery. Loose arm. Throws from a three-quarters arm slot. Starts on the third base side of the rubber from the wind-up. Free and easy arm action. Starts with his feet close together and slightly pointed towards the on-deck circle on the first-base side. Utilizes a high leg lift and gets extension over his front side. Hides the ball briefly when he brings it behind his back and then again behind his head as he comes forward. At times has trouble getting his arm in sync with the rest of his delivery. When arm is out ahead, will miss up to the glove side; when arm drags behind, tends to miss arm-side.

Fastball:
Sits 91-93 mph, but will pitch in the 94-96 mph range at times. Generates easy velocity. Pitch gets on hitters quick and has life. Needs to show the ability to hold velocity deeper into games. Has the potential to sit at higher velocity as he matures. Pitch has shown swing-and-miss potential, with arm-side run at times and cut on other occasions. Potential to develop into a plus-to-better offering.

Curveball:
79-83 mph. Has been up as high as 85 mph and as low as 75 mph in past looks. 1-to-7 shape. At its best, shows depth and late finish. Has advanced feel for the offering and does a good job snapping it off. Can throw for strikes or bury down and out of the zone to induce swinging strikes. Has the potential to be a big league-quality out pitch. In 2019 return from Tommy John surgery, may still have been trying to regain feel for the pitch, as it was more horizontal and slurvey at higher velocities, but retained its longer, more vertical shape at lower velocities. At its best, already shows plus and has the potential to become a plus-plus offering with improved consistency.

Changeup:
83-85 mph. In the past sat 80-83 mph. Clear third offering at present. Did not throw much in high school or in outings scouted in 2016. Incorporated pitch more in 2017, but as a work-in-progress as he tried to develop feel. At times will show average-to-better potential with late fade. At other times, will show well-below-average, coming in straight and firm and looking like a fastball he took something off of. Doesn’t throw with consistent arm speed; still developing. Solid-average potential, but will take some time to develop.

Career Notes:
Was ranked by some outlets as the top talent in the 2016 draft class, but fell due to signability and makeup concerns. Committed to Vanderbilt initially, but conflicting reports emerged saying he either decommitted the week of the draft to commit to Chipola (Fla.) Junior College, potentially allowing him to re-enter draft in 2017, or that Vanderbilt pulled his offer; SoxProspects sources unanimously confirmed the latter. Transferred to IMG Academy in Florida for his junior season but returned to Barnegat High in New Jersey as a senior and was later retroactively suspended for an improper transfer, causing his team to forfeit two games. Reportedly agreed to a pre-draft deal with the San Diego Padres, who had picks number 24 and 25, but Red Sox selected him anyway. Signed for $457,200 over slot. Participated in 2016 Fall Instructional League. Club reportedly was unhappy with his conditioning entering 2017 Spring Training. Suffered an intercostal strain during his first start of the 2017 season, causing him to miss two months, then was shut down in mid-August 2017 with forearm soreness. Father was arrested on drug and weapons charges during 2017 season. Worked out with Chris Sale in Ft. Myers during the 2017-18 offseason. Was injured in first spring training start in 2018, leading to May 2018 Tommy John surgery. Missed the 2018 season and most of 2019. Returned in August 2019 with a slimmed-down physique.

Summation:
Potential back-end starter with the ceiling of a high-end number two, but injury risk and missed development from past injuries complicate that projection significantly. Has a wide range of outcomes, with a significant gap between his floor and ceiling. Is well behind the development curve due to a lengthy injury history; still had just 66 professional innings after three full seasons in the system. Talent-wise, could easily be the system's top prospect. Has the build of a workhorse starting pitcher and repeatable mechanics, plus the makings of a three-pitch mix with his fastball and curveball both projecting to be at least plus offerings. Could stand to add a cutter to give hitters another look when he reaches the high minors.

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Domingo Tapia, Right-handed pitcher

Physical Description: Tall, large-framed right-hander with a filled-out lower half. Weight had been under-listed at 190 pounds for several years until recently, when weight was updated to 250 pounds. No additional projection in his frame. 

Mechanics: Throws from a low three-quarters arm slot. Gets good power from his legs. Mostly smooth mechanics, although there can be whipping action in his follow-through when he reaches back. No unnecessary movement.

Fastball: Four-seam sits high-90s and tops out at 100 mph. Two-seamer sits mid-90s with some run and heavy sink. Consistently below-average command and control.
Changeup: High 80s. Mixes in as a show-me pitch. Pitch has some sinking action. Below-average.

Career Notes: Signed by the Mets on his 18th birthday. Used as a starter early on in his career, had Tommy John surgery in May 2015 and returned as a reliever. Signed with the Reds in November 2016; received an invitation to MLB Spring Training with Cincinnati in 2018. Received an invitation to MLB Spring Training with the Red Sox in 2020.

Summation: Profiles as an emergency bullpen arm due to his limited arsenal and command and control issues. Could catch lightning in a bottle and work himself into a high-leverage reliever with the refinement of control and a secondary pitch, but that seems unlikely at this stage. Has yet to make MLB debut in his late 20s.

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Brendan Nail, Left-handed pitcher

Physical Description: Average frame, minimal physical projection.

Mechanics: Throws from a three-quarters arm slot. Starts on the first base side of the rubber. Short arm action behind. Does a good job hiding the ball behind his body during his delivery. Delivery makes it tough for lefties to pick the ball up out of his hand.

Fastball: 89-91 mph. Tops out at 93 mph. Pitch shows natural cut and jumps on hitters. Command and control need significant improvement. Walks way too many hitters, but has shown the ability to miss bats with the pitch, at least in the low minors.

Breaking Ball: 75-80 mph. Looks like a curveball at lower velocities and more like a slider when thrown harder. Unclear if two different pitches or one with a wide velocity band.

Career Notes: Undrafted out of Western Carolina as a junior, signed for full “slot” for an undrafted free agent after a strong Cape Cod League season. Missed extended time in 2018 with an undisclosed injury. Did not make 2019 debut with Greenville until April 30, then was demoted back to extended spring training after four appearances. Was much better in return to Greenville after an eight-game stint in Lowell, posting a 2.16 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 26 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings.

Summation: Profiles as an organizational arm. Ceiling of an emergency, up-and-down left-hander. Left-handedness gives him a chance, but will have to prove it at each level and is behind the development curve.

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Jake Thompson, Right-handed pitcher

Physical Description: Sturdy, filled-out frame with a thick lower half. Does not have any physical projection remaining.

Mechanics: Throws exclusively from the stretch, utilizing a high three-quarters arm slot. Starts on the first base side of the rubber and has a medium leg kick and short arm action. Hides the ball behind his body until late. Quick arm, usually does a good job keeping his line to the plate. Short-arms the ball somewhat.

Fastball: 90-93 mph. Tops out at 96 mph. Has shown ability to sit 94-96 mph in shorter outings, but his 2019 season ended before SoxProspects scouting staff could get reports on his velocity out of the bullpen. Pitch is on the straight side with fringy life. Could play up in a bullpen role. Potential above-average offering with improved command and control.

Splitter: 83-85 mph. Pitch will flash above-average potential with late tumble. Really falls off the table late. Showed improved feel with the offering very quickly after adding it in 2018.

Slider: 84-86 mph. 10-to-4 break. Can get on the loose side. Lacks feel. Potential fringe-average offering.

Changeup: Scrapped the pitch in favor of the splitter in 2018. Was 83-86 mph. Inconsistent, flashing average at times and below-average at others. At its best, was thrown with deceptive arm speed and late drop and fade.

Curveball: May have scrapped this pitch as well in 2018. Sat 73-77 mph. Lagged behind other secondary pitches. Didn’t consistently snap it off and left it on the loose side.

Career Notes: Missed the majority of his sophomore college season with a back injury. Returned to a decent 2016 season before taking a major step forward in 2017. Made just four appearances in early 2019 before getting straining his right elbow, eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Summation: Potential organizational reliever. Ceiling of an up-and-down relief option. A lot depends on how he comes back from Tommy John surgery. At his best, shows two potential above-average pitches in his fastball and splitter. Lack of a third pitch and command and control profile led to move to the bullpen in 2019, where he profiles much better.

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Alexander Montero, Right-handed pitcher

Physical Description: Tall, athletic right-hander with some physical projection remaining. Has filled out considerably since signing.

Mechanics:
Starts on the third base side of the rubber with a wide base. Doesn’t utilize a wind-up and comes set at his chest before utilizing a short arm action behind his back, hiding the ball until late. Typically comes over the top, but varies his arm slot at times, with some pitches coming from a more high-three quarters arm slot.

Fastball:
87-90 mph. Tops out at 91 mph. Velocity was down considerably in 2019. In 2018, he generated easy velocity and sat 92-94 mph, topping out at 95 mph. Shows cut at times when his arm gets out ahead of his delivery and comes across his body, with two-seam action at other times.

Changeup:
82-84 mph. Velocity was down in 2019 from 85-89 mph. Split-change is his best secondary offering at this stage, showing late, diving action down and out of the zone. Inconsistent.

Slider:
77-83 mph. Average potential, but inconsistent. The shape and depth of the pitch vary, with some more vertical when he gets over the ball and others with more tilt when he gets on the side of it. Can get slurvey at times and lack bite.

Career Notes:
Was old for an international signee at almost 20 years old. Started the 2018 season in the Lowell rotation. Missed a portion of the 2018 season with a forearm strain. Participated in 2018 Fall Instructional League. Was moved back to the GCL the following year with greatly diminished stuff, and exited his final 2019 start after just one batter, suggesting an injury.

Summation:
Was intriguing pre-injury based off looks in Lowell in 2018, showing potential for a three-pitch mix, but in 2019, his velocity was down across the board and his stuff had not returned after his forearm injury the previous year. Now looks like a completely different pitcher. Is a non-prospect if his stuff does not return.

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Oddanier Mosqueda, Left-handed pitcher

Physical Description: Undersized left-hander with some potential to add strength, but not much projection due to his height. Has already added significant weight since he signed.

Mechanics:
Throws from a low three-quarters arm slot, setting up on the third base side of the rubber. Effort in his delivery, which he struggles to repeat.

Fastball:
Fastball sits 91-93 mph, with life. Pitch has shown bat-missing ability in the low minors. Below-average control and command.

Curveball:
Velocity varies from 70-72 mph to 76-78 mph with long, sweeping, 1-to-7 break. Pitch shows more potential at the high velocity range. Throws the curveball often, in any count, and works it in and out of the zone.

Changeup:
83-84 mph. On the firm side. Tends to telegraph by slowing his arm down.

Career Notes:
Pitched in the Venezuelan Development Program in 2017. After struggling in the rotation in 2017, has been much better in a relief role. Cut walk rate in 2019 but allowed a corresponding jump in hits. Had IL stints in 2019 of about two weeks for left biceps tendinitis and about three weeks for left shoulder impingement syndrome.

Summation:
Potential organizational bullpen depth. Ceiling of an up-and-down reliever. Has shown significant bat-missing ability in the low minors and steady improvement year after year. Secondary pitches and command and control need refinement. Wide range of outcomes.

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Nick Lovullo, Infielder

Scouting Report: Skinny frame with minimal projection. Starts square and vertical. Utilizes a toe-tap timing device. Below-average bat speed, no power potential. Knows the strike zone, puts together quality at-bats. Makes a lot of contact, but struggles to drive the ball. Below-average speed, but solid baserunning instincts. Strong defensive instincts. Best position is second base, but can handle shortstop and third base if needed. Fringe-average arm strength, but soft hands and fluid actions. Son of former MLB player and current MLB manager Torey Lovullo. Drafted by Toronto out of high school in 2012, but did not sign. Selected by the Red Sox in both the 2015 and 2016 drafts while his father was a bench coach with the major league team. Organizational player who fills in at multiple levels at a variety of positions as needed.

Photo Credit: Jay Groome and Domingo Tapia by Kelly O'Connor
 
Mark Hanoian is the Scouting Report Manager for SoxProspects.com.

 
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