Barnegat High School pitcher Jason Groome, the likely first pick in the 2016 MLB draft, has been ruled ineligible.
The ruling comes from the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, who say that Groome violated transfer rules. The rule states that a student athlete who transfers must sit for 30 days if they do not show “bona fide change of address.” Groome, who played his junior season in Florida for IMG Academy, transferred back to his hometown to compete with childhood friends for his senior season.
The ruling wipes out any stats that the senior lefty had accumulated this season as well as vacating any victories he had a part in. This includes a stellar performance last week in which he dealt 19 strikeouts en route to a no-hitter.
Groome should only miss a handful of starts and be eligible to pitch again before season’s end.
The impact that this ruling has on the Phillies is minimal. Groome was high on their radar prior to Groome being forced out of action, as his skill set seems to be approaching elite status, and he will remain a top prospect in the draft. While it is preferable for teams to scout and evaluate talent, scouts around baseball have seen plenty of Groome in the last two seasons to be confident in his offerings and potential for success. Missing a few high school starts because of an unnecessarily strict high school sports rule should not be cause for concern. Of all the possible reasons a player could be ruled ineligible pre-draft, this one is nothing that should cause alarm long-term.
Look for Groome to remain at the top of the Phillies’ wish list as they prepare their draft board this June.
After finishing with the worst record in MLB last year, the Phils will select with the first overall pick for just the second time in history.
Groome issued a statement to those close to him via his private Twitter account on Thursday night.
The statement (pictured to the left) read:
“I want to thank everyone who has reached out in support! I’m proud and happy to be back home with my family and friends and looking forward to moving on from this decision and winning a state championship with my team! The adversity continues to prepared (sic) me for the future #dreamchasin”