MLB Draft 2022: Former Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker strikes out six in first start with independent team

MLB Draft 2022: Former Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker strikes out six in first start with independent team

Former Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker, the unsigned first-round pick of the New York Mets last year, began his stint with the independent Frontier League Tri-City ValleyCats on Saturday. Rocker struck out six while allowing two runs on three hits and zero walks in four innings. He gave up a two-run home run and threw 43 of 60 pitches for strikes.

Rocker reportedly sat at 95-97 mph and hit 99 mph with his fastball on Saturday, and his slider was in the mid-80s, which is his usual range. Several high-level executives from the MLB scouting team are said to be in attendance. Here is a video:

“He should have been (back on the mound) a long time ago,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin told the Tennessean on Saturday. “…All he’s done for our school is compete. And I’m just glad he can play and hang out and cool off a bit. He looks awesome.”

Selected with the No. 10 pick in last summer’s draft, Rocker didn’t sign after the Mets saw something they didn’t like about his physique and cut their bonus offer. The two sides reportedly agreed on a signing bonus of $6 million before the physical. Reports say the Mets had concerns about Rocker’s elbow, but it’s obvious he’s healthy enough to pitch now.

Rocker, now 22, is eligible for the draft again this year and has just over a month to show up with the ValleyCats. Our RJ Anderson ranked Rocker 30th among this year’s draft prospects before signing with Tri-City. Here is the wording:

John Steinbeck once wrote that the only remaining heroes are the scientists and the poor. Rocker, though neither of the above deserves your empathy after the events of last summer. As a reminder: Rocker was selected 10th overall by the Mets, who balked at signing him after reviewing his physique. MLB rules dictate he had no meaningful recourse, no ability to become a free agent and sign with a team of his choosing; his options were limited to returning to Vanderbilt, pitching professionally for an independent or foreign league team, or sitting out until he could re-enter the draft as the most famous player and, therefore, the most scrutinized in the class. Scouts already had reservations about Rocker’s durability, as well as his command and depth of arsenal; it is unlikely to resolve these perceived issues in what looks certain to amount to a proof-of-life start or two this summer. He should come out of the field in the first round strong on his record and his sacred slider, but the top 10 seems out of reach. fati loveor something.

Rocker was one of the most dominant pitchers in the country during his time at Vanderbilt. He went 28-10 with a 3.35 ERA and 321 strikeouts in 236 2/3 innings in three seasons, one of which was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Rocker threw a 19-out no-hitter with Vanderbilt facing elimination in the Super Regionals. It was one of the greatest performances in college baseball history.

This year’s draft class is short of top-notch college pitchers, as many upper arms have been injured this spring. Rocker is technically not a college pitcher, although he does bring that pedigree. A strong showing with the ValleyCats over the next few weeks could get Rocker back in the first round. Going as high as No. 10 and/or receiving a $6 million bonus seems unlikely, however.

The 2022 MLB Draft will take place July 17-19. The Mets received the No. 11 pick in this year’s draft as compensation for not signing Rocker.

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