Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker went 10th overall last year to the Mets but did not sign. (Photo by David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
STATS & ANALYSIS

Kumar Rocker MLB Prospect Cheat Sheet

The 2021 No. 10 overall pick did not sign with the Mets and enters 2022 as the biggest name in the draft — for the second year in a row.

Unlike in the NBA and NFL drafts, MLB draftees aren’t usually household names among fans prior to draft day.

Kumar Rocker is the exception.

Forget for a minute that he’s been making top pitching prospect lists for the better part of a decade. The New York Mets took the righty hurler 10th overall in the draft last year, but the team declined sign the phenom amid concerns over the health of his right arm. While Rocker could have gone back to Vanderbilt, he instead spent the fall and winter recovering from shoulder surgery and honing his craft before signing with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the Frontier League in the spring. In 20 innings with Tri-City, he’s compiled 32 strikeouts and a 1.35 ERA while opponents hit .149 off of him.

That performance has left many hopeful that the other-worldly potential scouts have seen in the past is still there, and for that reason, he should hear his name called in the first round of the MLB Draft on Sunday.

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Who is Kumar Rocker?

Age: 22
Height: 6’5
Bats/Throws: R/R
Position: SP
Hometown: Athens, GA
School: Vanderbilt

Rocker’s 19-strikeout no-hitter against Duke in the 2019 NCAA Tournament is now a distant memory, but his time with Tri-City indicates that the stuff may still be there. His fastball has hit 99 in the past and averages around 93-94. His deadliest pitch, however, is his slider. Rated as his best pitch, Rocker throws it in the mid-80s, and it was the pitch he used to strike out each of those 19 Blue Devils.

His health concerns have no-doubt cost him money and draft position — he agreed to a $6 million bonus with the Mets before the Amazin’s walked away last year — but his potential is going to be too tantalizing for a team to pass up somewhere in the mid-to-late first round.

Kumar Rocker Stats & Accolades
  • 2021 season at Vanderbilt: 14-4 | 2.73 ERA | 122 IP | 75 H | 179 SO | 39 BB
  • No. 10 overall pick by the Mets in 2021
  • 2021 First Team All-American
  • 2021 All-SEC First Team
  • 2021 Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy finalist
  • U18 Baseball World Cup Gold Medalist
Kumar Rocker MLB Scouting Report

Scout ratings are via MLB Pipeline and exist on a 20-80 scale. 50 is considered average for an MLB player.

Fastball: 60
Curveball: 60
Slider: 70
Change: 50
Control: 50
Overall: 50

Expected MLB Draft position: First Round

The Expert Take on Kumar Rocker

Rocker has shown a plus-plus slider at times in the past, and there’s no reason to think his fastball is back but his slider isn’t. He has always had better control than command, and while he’s shown incredible competitiveness in some games — like the no-hitter he threw in 2019, when he was pushed to 131 pitches — he’s also had outings where he seemed to struggle to adjust mid-game. He has No. 2 starter upside, if healthy, but the risk associated with his medicals may make him a better bet for some team’s second pick.

Keith Law, The Athletic
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