NEW YORK -- It went down to the final 24 hours or so before the deadline for signing players selected in last month's draft, but the Red Sox and No. 1 pick Jason Groome finally reached agreement on a deal late Thursday and officially confirmed the signing Friday afternoon.
Groome, a lefthanded pitcher from Barnegat, N.J., received a $3.65 million signing bonus, according to an industry source.
In a conference calls with reporters Friday night, Red Sox scouting director Mike Rikard said Groome will begin his career at the team's Gulf Coast League affiliate in Fort Myers before transitioning to Lowell of the New York-Penn League in a few weeks.
But given his age -- he turns 18 soon -- and his workload from his senior year, the Red Sox will be careful monitoring his innings in his first pro season.
"We'll be extremely conservative right out of gate,'' confirmed Rikard.
Though he grew up on the Jersey shore, where fans of the Yankees, Mets and Phillies usually reside, Groome has long been a Red Sox fan, making his signing especially meaningful to him.
"Every time I would watch Red Sox-Yankees, Pedro (Martinez) would be on the mound,'' said Groome. "I just took a liking to Pedro's style and how he played and the Red Sox, how they played as a whole. And now they have two of my favorite players, David Price and Dustin Pedroia, two great ballplayers.''
Back in the spring, some had projected Groome to be the first overall pick. But questions over high school eligibility, coupled with doubts over his signing demands and some unsubstantiated rumors of his off-field behavior set his stock tumbling to the point where he was available when the Sox chose at No. 12.
"It was a rough past year,'' acknowledged Groome. "But my parents were always with me, by my side. There's nothing you can really say because it's all he said, she said. It did affect me at times, but once I got back out on the field, I just took all that into consideration. That's was my determination this year -- to prove everyone wrong.
"It's kind of tough when people are saying things. But there's nothing you can do about it. If it's not true, then it's not true. At times, it gets me so frustrated. These people never even met me and they're saying all these negative things. Once they meet me, they see how great of a person I am.''
Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam