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January 15, 2021 at 2:44 PM

Scouting Report Updates: Jay Groome, Aldo Ramirez and more from Fall Instructs


The latest SoxProspects scouting report update features a pair of top 15 pitching prospects in Jay Groome and Aldo Ramirez, as well as three other players who participated in the 2020 Fall Instructional League

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

Jay Groome, Left-handed pitcher

Physical Description: Very large pitcher's frame. Wide, mature upper body and filled-out lower half. Looks all of his listed height and weight. Average athlete. Height is imposing on the mound. Body will need maintenance and bears watching as he matures; has already had problems maintaining his conditioning. 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, but returned to the mound in 2020 in noticeably worse shape.

Mechanics: Medium-effort delivery. Throws from a high three-quarters arm slot. Starts on the third base side from the wind-up. 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 is upright and stiff. Hides the ball briefly when he brings it behind his back and then again behind his head as he comes forward. Delivery is inconsistent and has gotten noticeably stiffer as his athleticism and coordination have regressed. Has trouble getting his arm in sync with the rest of his delivery. Has a tendency to open up his front side early while his arm lags behind and comes through late. When arm is out ahead, will miss up to the glove side; when it drags behind, tends to miss arm-side.


Fastball: Sits 90-92 mph. Prior to his elbow injury, would sit 92-94 mph and could dial it up to the 94-96 mph range at times. Since returning from Tommy John surgery, has yet to consistently show that kind of velocity. When at its best, the pitch gets on hitters quick and has life. Still 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. At present, shows potential to develop into an average offering, but could become an above-average-to-plus pitch if his pre-surgery form returns.


Curveball: 76-79 mph. Was mostly 79-83 mph prior to his surgery, but had been as high as 85 pmh and as low as 75 mph. 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 slurvy at higher velocities but retained its longer, more vertical shape at lower velocities. At its best, shows plus and has the potential to become a plus-plus offering with improved consistency, but that he was still trying to regain feel for the pitch a year-and-a-half after his surgery is concerning.


Changeup: 80-83 mph. In the past was 83-85 mph. Clear third offering that is still developing. Did not throw much in high school or in 2016. Began to incorporate it more in 2017 as a work-in-progress as he tried to develop feel. At times will show average 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. Does not throw with consistent arm speed. Average potential, but will take some time to develop. Has not shown much feel or used the pitch often since his return from surgery. 


Slider: 82-87 mph. New pitch debuted at Fall Instructional League in 2020. Short, horizontal movement. Showed decent feel, but release is inconsistent. Has the tendency to leave over the plate far too often. Still a work in progress. Is not very effective right now.


Career Notes: Was ranked by some outlets as the top talent in the 2016 draft class, but fell due to signability and makeup concerns. 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. Committed to Vanderbilt initially, but commitment changed to Chipola (Fla.) Junior College the week of the draft. Conflicting reports said either Vanderbilt pulled his offer or Groome recommitted to potentially allow him to re-enter draft in 2017; SoxProspects sources have unanimously confirmed the former. Reportedly agreed to a pre-draft deal with the San Diego Padres, who had picks number 24 and 25, but Red Sox selected him 12th anyway and signed him for $457,200 over slot. Red Sox were reportedly 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, although he had visibly filled back out in 2020. Pitched at the Alternate Training Site in 2020 against much older hitters. Participated in 2016 and 2020 Fall Instructional League. Was added to the 40-man roster during the 2020-21 offseason to protect him from selection in the Rule 5 Draft despite still having just 66 professional innings pitched.


Summation: Potential fringe back-end starter, but injury risk and copious missed development time complicate that projection significantly. Ceiling is higher, closer to a mid-rotation type. Has a wide range of outcomes, with a significant gap between his floor and ceiling. On raw talent and the arsenal he showed prior to surgery, he could be one of the top prospects in the system. However, is well behind the development curve due to his lengthy injury history. Also, stuff has yet to return to pre-surgery levels. Re-discovering his velocity and the bite and consistency on his curveball are key for him to retain his prospect value, as will staying healthy, both to make up for lost development time and to simply prove he can do so.


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Aldo Ramirez, Right-handed pitcher


Physical Description: Athletic, lean frame with some remaining projection, especially in his upper body. Quick feet. Looks slightly taller than listed.


Mechanics: Throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot. Starts on the third base side. Quick arm. Deliberate, vertical delivery. High leg lift. Could do a better job incorporating his lower half. Finishes upright and square to the plate. Arm action has a stab behind, but is relatively free and easy. Good rhythm in delivery, works quickly. Repeats well. Varies delivery times from the stretch. Has deception in his delivery, hides the ball well behind his head until late, giving hitters less time to pick it up.


Fastball: 92-95 mph. Pitch shows life and sink. Velocity is trending up and has improved each year since he signed. Advanced command and control for his age. Always around the zone; throws competitive pitches, which allows him to work deeper into games. Potential plus offering with refined command.


Changeup: 86-88 mph. Best secondary pitch. Splitter-ish movement with late drop down and out of the zone. Advanced feel. Flashed plus at times during the 2018 season, but rarely incorporated the pitch in 2019 looks with Lowell. During 2020 Fall Instructs, pitch was very effective and elicited lots of weak contact on the ground. Potential plus-to-better offering.


Curveball: 77-81 mph. Shows confidence in and feel for pitch. Will throw in any count. At its best, shows 11-to-5, two-plane break. Can bury down and out of the zone or backdoor the pitch to steal a called strike. Shape and depth vary at times. Below-average spin rate. Potential average offering.


Career Notes: Red Sox purchased his rights from Aguascalientes in the Mexican League for $550,000 in April 2018. Showed advanced control for his age in the DSL in 2018. Participated in the 2018 and 2020 Fall Instructional League. Was identified by scouts as one of the top pitchers at the 2020 Fall Instructional League.


Summation: Potential back-end starter. Ceiling of a mid-rotation starter. Very interesting young arm with a strong track record of performance in the low minors against age-advanced competition. Has advanced feel for his age and has a solid chance to remain a starter. Has always thrown strikes and shows the early makings of a three-pitch mix, all with at least average potential. Does not stand out physically, but still young enough that he could grow some more. One of the more intriguing low minors arms in the system, but has a long way to go between what he is now and what he could be in the future.


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Bradley Blalock, Right-handed pitcher

 

Physical Description: Average frame. Has room to fill out, especially in his lower half as he physically matures.

 

Mechanics: Throws from a three-quarters arm slot. Simple mechanics. Does not use a windup and has minimal movement before coming forward. Medium leg kick. Typically stays on-line to the plate, but will fall off to the first base side at times when he lands off-balance.

 

Fastball: 92-94 mph, touching 95 mph. Has already added velocity from sitting 87-91 when he was drafted, and has the frame to add more as he fills out. Pitch shows some sink. 

 

Slider: 83-85 mph. Plays well north/south in conjunction with his fastball; fastball up in the zone and slider down. Potential average pitch.

 

Curveball: 80-82 mph. Sweeping curveball. Shape varies, but mostly 11-to-5. Inconsistent feel and will sometimes cast the pitch when he does not snap it off. Has shown some bat-missing potential. Potential average pitch.

 

Changeup: 78-80 mph. Work in progress, clear fourth pitch. Lacks feel. Potential below-average pitch. 

 

Career Notes: Committed to Kennesaw State. Participated in Fall Instructional League in 2019 and 2020.

 

Summation: Potential up-and-down swingman type. Ceiling of a back-end starter. Shows confidence and pitches with some swagger on the mound. Velocity has already ticked up and could continue to do so. Development of secondary pitches and command will be key for him to reach his potential. Likely will rely on his fastball-slider combo at higher levels unless he makes improvements with his other pitches. Those two pitches could play in a bullpen role if development necessities a move at some point.


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Bryan Gonzalez, Outfielder


Physical Description: Large, filled-out frame. Powerful lower half. Looks the part.


Hit: Starts slightly open and has a leg kick timing device. Very quick wrists. Gets good torque from his lower half. Swing can get long. Swing is strength-based. Pitch recognition is a major issue. Will expand the zone and struggles to pick up secondary pitches early. In the early stages of developing an approach and has a lot of swing-and-miss in his game already. Potential below-average hit tool.


Power: Plus raw power. Can really drive the ball, especially to the pull side against left-handed pitchers. Above-average game power potential.


Run: Below-average speed. Will likely get slower as he matures physically.


Field: Fringe-average defensive profile. Will need to maintain his athleticism to stick in right field long-term.


Arm: Fringe-average arm strength. Profiles best in left field, but passable in right.


Career Notes: Signed to the third-highest bonus in Red Sox 2018 international free agent class. Showed significant home run pop in the DSL in 2019. Participated in the Fall Instructional League in 2019 and 2020.


Summation: Potential bat-first, platoon corner outfielder. Long way to go developmentally and has some potential, but also has a low floor. Needs to develop an approach and show he has enough hit tool to be able to tap into his power. Has had more success against lefties early in his career and will need to show he can handle advanced right-handed pitching. Has upside due to his power and you can dream on him becoming an MLB regular if everything breaks right.

 

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Roldani Baldwin, Catcher

Physical Description: Athletic frame for a catcher. Thick lower half. Has filled out considerably since signing. On the shorter side; looks his listed height and weight.

 

Hit: Starts square in a slight crouch. Quiet pre-pitch. Utilizes a leg lift timing device. Uppercut swing. Quick wrists; has some bat speed. Will not get cheated. Makes hard contact when he gets the bat on the ball. Can drive a fastball, especially when elevated. Below-average plate discipline; lacks patience and will swing at some bad pitches, especially breaking balls in the dirt, which he seems to struggle to recognize. Aggressive approach that could be exposed against more advanced pitching. Potential below-average hit tool.

 

Power: Above-average raw power. Heavy pull-side hitter. Swing has lift; can really drive the ball with backspin when he squares it up. How power actualizes will depend on hit tool development. Potential for fringe-average game power.

 

Run: Decent speed for a catcher, but will not be part of his game.

 

Defense: Still a very rough receiver. Has the tendency to stab at the ball and end up in poor position with his glove. Does not manipulate his body well to block balls in the dirt and keep them at his feet. Potential below-average defensive profile.

 

Arm: Above-average arm strength. Struggles with accuracy at times, but has gotten quicker with his release. Pop times to second base are now around 1.95 seconds, down almost a tenth of a second from prior years.

 

Career Notes: Played more third base than catcher early in his career, but moved to catcher full-time in 2017. Has struggled with injuries throughout his career. Had three stints on the IL in 2016 and another four in 2018, including one for a concussion. In 2019, suffered a shin/ankle fracture in spring training, causing him to miss nearly the entire season, save for a rehab assignment in the low minors very late in the year. Received a surprising non-roster invitation to major league spring training in 2020, but was not added to the Club Player Pool after the organization acquired other high-minors catchers in early 2020 trades. Participated in the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2020 Fall Instructional Leagues. Re-signed as a minor league free agent in 2020.

 

Summation: Projects as mid-minors organizational depth. Will likely struggle against more advanced pitching and does not have the defensive ability to carry him if he does. Once an intriguing sleeper prospect behind the plate, loss of development time due to injuries has hampered his development significantly. Needs to make significant strides on defense, improve his patience at the plate, and show that he can make contact against advanced pitching in order to succeed in the high minors.


Photo Credit: Jay Groome and Bradley Blalock by Kelly O'Connor.

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.