Kumar Rocker 2022 MLB Draft Profile

Kumar Rocker

RHP Kumar Rocker is the 38th-ranked prospect available on MLB.com‘s 2022 MLB Draft rankings. Now, Rocker’s name may sound familiar. That is because he entered last year’s draft as the top prospect on the list. However, concerns about his health led him to fall to the 10th overall pick, when he was taken by the New York Mets. A subsequent physical revealed undisclosed shoulder and elbow issues, and the Mets declined to sign him. Prior to last year’s draft, the 22-year-old had two stellar seasons and change pitching for Vanderbilt University. This included a 2019 College World Series championship where he won Most Outstanding Player. Rocker geared up for this year’s draft by making five starts for the Tri-City ValleyCats of the independent Frontier League. In 20 innings, he posted a 1.35 ERA with 32 strikeouts. Rocker could be a first-round pick yet again in 2022.

 

Kumar Rocker Draft Profile

Strengths

At 6’5″ and 245 pounds, Rocker possesses a large, athletic build. According to the MLB.com scouting report, his fastball can be explosive at times. Although it averaged 93 mph during the 2021 season, it went as high as 99. His heater also possesses some movement and sinks on occasion. Rocker’s fastball is dynamic, but his true strikeout pitch is his slider. Thrown in the mid-80’s, this pitch helped Rocker tremendously during his 2019 no-hitter against Duke. All 19 of his strikeouts in that game came on the slider. Other pitches in his arsenal include a low-80’s curveball that breaks downward, and a seldom-used mid-80’s changeup. This pitch could become more refined as Rocker’s career progresses.

Weaknesses

While Rocker possesses an impressive array of pitches, his command is still just average. With the right coaching, improving his command could set him up for prolonged success. When Rocker’s fastball doesn’t produce the desired run and sink, it sometimes flattens out. Poorly located fastballs that do this become cannon fodder for major league hitters.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement with Rocker’s mechanics. However, the biggest concern surrounding him remains his arm health. Rocker’s career at Vanderbilt was so impressive that for a time he was the biggest potential prize in the 2021 draft. This was in a draft class that also included players such as Vanderbilt teammate Jack Leiter, a widely discussed prospect for years. But the uncertainty surrounding his shoulder and elbow led Rocker to fall to the 10th pick. The Mets, despite offering him a $6 million signing bonus, were still perturbed enough after his physical to walk away from the deal.

Whichever team drafts Rocker in 2022 will likely be encouraged enough by his recent performance in indy ball to roll the dice on him. It would be wise, however, to closely monitor the condition of his arm as he continues his journey to the majors.

How Kumar Rocker Compares to Current Major Leaguers

Physically, Rocker, somewhat resembles Justin Verlander. They are both the same height, and Rocker has about ten pounds on Verlander. This is a sign that someone with a tall, muscular build like Rocker can have extended success in the majors. Veteran lefty Carlos Rodon, despite pitching with the other hand, possesses a similar arsenal to Rocker, with the slider also being his go-to pitch. Rocker will certainly hope to achieve the All-Star caliber of Rodon early in his career, and perhaps even the Hall of Fame caliber of Verlander later on.

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Players Mentioned:

Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon