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April 14, 2016

New Jersey high school pitcher Jason Groome, potential Phillies’ top pick, ruled ineligible

Jason Groome is a high school senior at Barnegat High School, which is about an hour north of popular South Jersey vacation towns like Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Avalon and Wildwood. A 6’6” left-handed pitcher, Groome currently sits atop the draft boards at MLB Pipeline and ESPN (Insider).

That makes him a person of interest to the Philadelphia Phillies, who will make the top selection in the 2016 MLB Draft. It’s safe to say the Phils are planning to make the short drive to the shore a few times this spring. In fact, Klentak was already spotted at one of Groome’s starts.

On Monday, Groome tossed a no-hitter, a win that has been forfeited by Barnegat. Groome, who grew up in Barnegat and transferred back to play with his friends after spending part of his junior year at IMG Academy in Florida (you know, where it’s warm in the spring), has been ruled ineligible. From Michael McGarry of the Press of Atlantic City:

The Barnegat School District released a statement this afternoon confirming the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association ruled Groome ineligible because he violated the rule that requires athletes who transfer without a bonafide change of residence to sit the first 30 days of the season or half of the team's total number of games for the season. The NSJIAA defines a bonafide change of residence as a move from one public school district to another.


From the outside, the ruling seems ridiculous. Groome was transferring back to his hometown to play with his friends at the school he had already attended. High school sports rarely seem to make sense, though:

It looks like Groome will be back fairly shortly, but any delay isn’t good news for the Phillies. Sitting there with 1-1, they want as much information as possible making such an important pick.

Then again, they'll be assessing the totality of the player, and not just how (or whether) they're performing this spring.

“It’s definitely important and we have to be careful that it fits with the total package of that player, with what he’s done in the past,” Klentak said on Wednesday (but not about Groome specifically). “Even an amateur season is still a relatively short period of time. We’ve got to make sure we’re not getting fooled by a small sample.”

“Much like with everything else we do and talk about, we’re trying to get as much information as we can, and a piece of that puzzle is what a player is doing in the present moment,” he added. “But if we have information dating back several years, we’ll use that, too.”

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann