Red Sox minor league notebook: When will Jason Groome make professional debut?

Ryan Hannable
August 11, 2016 - 7:08 am
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1. Red Sox first-round pick Jason Groome has been in Fort Myers for a few weeks now working towards making his eventual professional debut. The 17-year-old has been working on the club's throwing program, arm strengthening routines and general workouts with Goose Gregson, the Red Sox' Latin American pitching coordinator and also one of the pitching coaches for the Red Sox' Gulf Coast League squad. Most recently Groome has been throwing bullpens, which have gone very well according to those who have seen them. The biggest question now is when the tall left-hander will make his professional debut? According to a source, the plan is for him to throw in a couple of simulated games next week and then make his debut shortly after that. So, it's getting closer. After signing on July 15, it had been roughly two months since he appeared in a live game and after only logging 39 2/3 innings this spring, Groome had a lot of ramping back up to do. Being so young the Red Sox wanted to be extremely cautious with him. The plan since he signed was to get him to short-season, Single-A Lowell for at least a start or two and with about three weeks left in the Spinners' season, if all goes according to plan, Groome may get to do so. 2. Top prospect Yoan Moncada suffered a Grade 1 ankle sprain last Friday night and it was learned he would miss roughly a week of action. That timetable is still on track, as according to a source, he will be back in the lineup before the week is over. The injury likely pushed back any potential immediate promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket. This isn't suggesting it won't happen before the season is over, it just likely won't be immediate. In 34 games with Double-A Portland, the second baseman is batting .285 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs. He's beginning to get work at third base and in the outfield as it's likely his future with the Red Sox is not at second base. 3. Right-hander Michael Kopech has performed extremely well since coming back following missing all of spring training after getting in an altercation with a teammate and breaking his hand. In eight starts (seven with High-A Salem and one with short-season, Single-A Lowell), the 20-year-old is 2-1 with a 0.96 ERA and has 53 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. His best pitch is his fastball, which was clocked in one game at 105 mph. As for a potential promotion to Double-A Portland this season, don't hold your breath. According to a source, such a promotion is not likely, especially with Salem being in the playoffs already. 4. One of the hottest players in the entire Red Sox farm system is Portland outfielder Aneury Tavarez. The 24-year-old is batting .338 with five home runs and 37 RBIs with the Sea Dogs this season. He's been on fire of late, batting .463 in his last 10 games, which includes a 4-for-4, two-walk performance on Wednesday night. His season has come out of nowhere as he batted .230 in April and .263 in May before hitting .413 in June, .341 in July and now .515 in eight games in August. It's worth noting he is Rule 5 draft eligible after this season and it wouldn't appear the Red Sox would want to add him to their 40-man roster with the number of young outfielders they already have. 5. Pawtucket infielder Deven Marrero hit his first homer of the season Wednesday night, his 84th game of the season. It's been a really difficult year for the 25-year-old as he is slashing .195/.238/.241. The 2012 first-round pick really hasn't turned into much for the Red Sox, as he is such a natural infielder, but can't get anything going at the plate. He certainly has been passed by many on the Red Sox' organizational depth chart, so it's worth wondering just how much time he has left with the organization. 6. Two weeks ago Salem right-hander Travis Lakins was placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation and since has tweeted pictures of his arm being in a big brace. He will likely not pitch again this year, but the injury will not impact him next year, per source. Part of him not coming back this year is how time is left this season and the time it takes to ramp a starter back up into game action. Lakins, a sixth-round pick last year out of Ohio State, skipped Single-A Greenville and was 6-3 with a 5.93 ERA with High-A Salem this season. 7. Red Sox fourth-round pick Bobby Dalbec is off to a great start in his first 13 games as a professional. The third baseman is slashing .313/.389/.542 with two homers and five doubles. This is a great sign for both he and the Red Sox as he struggled a bit at the plate with Arizona this past season, but the Red Sox were confident he could develop into a power hitter with the proper instruction. It appears he's on the right path to potentially turning into one. 8. Another 2016 draft pick having a solid start to his pro career is reliever Stephen Negosek, who was selected in the sixth round. He's already moved up to Single-A Greenville after posting a 1-0 record with a 2.03 ERA in his first 10 games. With Greenville he's appeared in three games, not allowing a run over three innings. With him being a college pitcher, pitching for Oregon this past season, it's not a complete surprise seeing the Red Sox taking an aggressive path with him. 9. Another former first-round pick who is struggling is Michael Chavis, who is repeating a season in Single-A Greenville. He got off to a hot start and seemed to be in a good position for a breakout season, but then suffered a thumb injury sidelining him for about two months. Since returning, he's had a tough second half of the year as he is batting just .211 in the second half. The most concerning thing may be the number of strikeouts, as after cutting down on them to open the year, he now has 43 in 39 games in the second half of the year. Being just 21 years old, it's not time to completely panic, but next season will be a big one for him. 10. The last two starts have been very encouraging for Salem left-hander Trey Ball. Wednesday he went six innings, allowing one run on four hits with a season-high seven strikeouts. In his last 12 innings, he's allowed three runs and perhaps the best sign has been just two walks in each start. Command has been a major issue for the 22-year-old. Like Chavis, next year will be a big one for the former first-round pick as this was Ball's second season with High-A Salem.