NEWS: With the 10th overall pick in the 2021 draft, the Mets select Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker. Widely considered the second-best pitcher in this year's draft class, and the kind of arm that could advance quickly. A super exciting pick for the Mets.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 12, 2021
The Vanderbilt right-hander, as a result, will enter the Mets’ system and inject some talent and upside to it.
His slide was mostly associated with him asking for a big signing bonus, but the Mets, with the wealthiest owner in MLB in the person of Steve Cohen, flexed their financial muscles and gave him $6 million, comfortably over slot value.
He is a 21-year-old bulldozer who looks more like a linebacker than a pitcher, but he has shown his skill on the mound time and time again with Vanderbilt.
He is listed at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, but has surprising athleticism despite being that big.
In three seasons with Vanderbilt, Rocker is 28-10 with a 2.89 ERA in 236.2 innings, with a whopping 321 strikeouts to his name.
He pitched 122 innings in 2021 and earned a 14-4 record with a 2.73 ERA and 179 punchouts.
He has the goods, he has the college experience, and he has a good team to help him learn and will give him the tools to succeed.
But the question remains: When will Mets fans see Rocker in the big leagues?
He Could Be A Star But Is Not A Finished Product
Some evaluators are enamored with his skill set, while others are worried about eventual dips in his fastball velocity.
Here is MLB Pipeline’s scouting report on him:
The son of former NFL defensive lineman Tracy Rocker, Kumar is a physical right-hander who can overpower hitters with his fastball and breaking pitches. He usually operates at 93-96 mph with his heater, which can reach 99 and features some run and sink but also can get flat at times, though his velocity sat in the low 90s for three weeks early in the season. He notched all 19 of his whiffs in his no-hitter with his slider, a mid-80s beast with power and depth that grades as plus-plus, and he also has a low-80s curveball with more vertical break.
MLB Pipeline also says he has a changeup that has potential but sometimes gets too ‘firm’.
He hasn’t used his changeup much, and his command is average.
It’s evident that Rocker has loads of potential as a major league pitcher, but his development isn’t finished yet.
More evolved thoughts on Kumar Rocker: Rocker is a great prospect. 60 fastballs paired with 70 or 80 sliders don't come around very often, and any time you have the chance to add one you have to be excited. He's an excellent prospect. That said, I feel it's fair to have concerns.
— Alex Nelson (@alxnelson) July 12, 2021
Things To Work On As A Minor Leaguer
The minor leagues will help him develop at least one of his changeup and curveball into an above-average pitch, so he doesn’t depend on his top two offerings, the fastball and the slider.
He will also need to fully develop his command.
He has good control (68 walks in 236.2 career innings at Vanderbilt is actually quite good), but his command can betray him at times.
As long as he gains consistency with his fastball, takes at least a moderate step forward with his command, and improves at least one pitch between his hook and change, he will be a star.
However, it may take a couple of years for him to get there.
Mets fans can expect to see Rocker up around 2023 or 2024 if everything goes well for him.