Kumar Rocker puts on a show in the Frontier Independent League

2021 NCAA Division I Men's Baseball Championship
2021 NCAA Division I Men's Baseball Championship / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

With New York Mets draft talk in the air, and the name “Kumar Rocker” floating around again, let’s jump on this!

As I continue this road to the 2022 Major League Baseball amateur draft for the Mets, how can we not reflect on the mishappen in round one in 2021? Last year, the Mets selected the monstrous right-hander, Kumar Rocker, out of Vanderbilt University, in the 1st round, 10th selection. Kumar Rocker was not signed after this selection. The Mets had a raised eyebrow regarding the physical; there was concern about his elbow. This resulted in a failure to sign the righty, as there were attempts to re-negotiate the terms of the contract and signing bonus.

Rocker’s agent, Scott Boras advised in a statement, reassuring the confidence in Rocker’s health, backed by multiple medical assessments executed after the college season concluded.
So, Kumar Rocker took to the field, and he did look healthy!

Mets 2021 1st Round selection put on a show for Tri-City

On Saturday June 4th, 2022, I received a text message from one of my clients, a player from the Trois-Riveres Aigles, advising me that they’re facing off against Kumar Rocker, who was scheduled to pitch for the Tri-City Valley Cats. These two teams are independent professional baseball teams, in the Frontier League; a Major League Baseball partnered league. Rocker made his professional career debut at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, throwing 4 electric innings on 60 pitches, 6 strikeouts, no walks, 16 hitters faced, only allowing 2-earned runs on a homerun by the Aigles clean-up stick.

Rocker’s overall performance screamed “healthy and ready to get paid!”. Of 60 pitches, 43 of these were strikes; he did not allow any walks. His velocity was nowhere in question, averaging 95-97mph while maxing at 95mph. His demeanor was very zoned-in, relaxed, focused, and repetitive. His mechanics, delivery, and arm slot were repeating well, with a good tempo and good fastball command.  His fastball was biting while staying in the zone, and getting hitters to swing and miss on most of his strikeouts. Rocker looked like the Vandy-Boy superstar he was a few months ago.

Now, does he have a shot again? Most definitely. First-round shot? Most definitely. A shot to play for the boys in Queens? Maybe not.  Although the Mets have selections 11 and 14 in the first round; the 11th spot is compensation for not signing Rocker in 2021; there is young blood in arms awaiting the draft.  Kumar Rocker has shown to be healthy, with a repertoire that’s proven effective, and he may have a shot at a 1st or 2nd round opportunity within the league.

My guess is that he will be late in rounds 2-3 with a lesser slot value; possibly landed by teams such as the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Guardians, or the Tampa Bay Rays. Rocker has to produce equal or greater numbers to this performance in the Frontier League. All the questions regarding the medical concerns may still linger, however, this could get cleaned up by consistency in performance leading up to draft day.

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