USA TODAY High School Sports is launching a series called “60 for ’16” to highlight 60 members of the Class of 2016 who we will be watching in the coming 12 months. The athletes were selected by the USA TODAY HSS staff.
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Name: Jason Groome
School: IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
What we’ve seen: Groome, a 6-6, 220-pound left-hander, was 5-0 this past season with a 1.22 ERA and 81 strikeouts and only nine walks in 43 innings for the Ascenders. The New Jersey native was 6-2 with a 0.57 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 61.1 innings as a sophomore at Barnegat, N.J.
Why we’re watching: Groome’s fastball has an easy motion that belies its speed, which reached 97 mph this season and consistently was between 92-95 mph. The Vanderbilt commit is considered a potential first-round draft choice next season.
“He’s a hard-worker but he’s a low-maintenance player,” said IMG pitching coordinator Steve Frey. “You just tell him to do something and he does it. He’s a high-competitive spirit. When he gets on the mound, you can actually see him competing. Off the field, he’s more low key. He’s a low energy guy but the ball explodes out of his hand. He has a good curve ball and has a good change-up. He’s confident in his pitches.”
IMG Baseball Academy director Dan Simonds said that what separates Groome is his maturity.
“He’s very professional, especially for such a young age,” Simonds said. “If things aren’t going right, his body language remains the same. He stays positive and the other players feed off of him. There’s a reason he had the success he had this year.”