Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Names to Watch With the 34th Overall Pick
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the 34th overall pick in the draft in the form of a competitive balance pick, so who could they select at this slot?
In this year’s draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates will have the 34th overall pick as a competitive balance pick, and they’ll have this along with their no. 4 overall pick. The last time they had a competitive balance pick was in 2020, the 31st overall selection, which they used to pick up Carmen Mlodzinski.
Given that they’ll have two very early picks, the Pirates will likely be able to find a late first-round guy fall to them at no. 34. Previously, we took a look at how they could use this pick, using it as a more traditional way, an over slot or under slot pick. Given the talent in this year’s draft, who could we see the Pittsburgh Pirates take at this slot?
Right-Handed Pitcher Kumar Rocker
Kumar Rocker was one of the best pitchers going into last year’s draft. The then-Vanderbilt right-hander was coming off a season where he had a 2.73 ERA and 0.93 WHIP through 122 innings of work. Rocker had posted an impressive 36.5% with a walk rate of just 8.0%. He didn’t give up many home runs either, with a 0.59 HR/9.
Rocker was initially drafted by the New York Mets, who had the 10th overall pick. Many saw this as a great pick at the time because, at one point, he was arguably a top 3 pick. Rocker fell to 10 because there were questions about his velocity. He had massive fluctuations throughout the season, which led to the Mets questioning his health, and the deal they had in place falling through.
When he’s healthy, Rocker has a four-seam fastball that comes in around 93-95 MPH. He has shown the ability to crank the velo up when he needs to, topping out at 99 MPH. However, nearing the end of last college season, Rocker was only around the 91-93 MPH range. Rocker still has arguably the best slider in this year’s draft. It has a mid-80s velocity with wipeout movement. He also added a plus curveball to his repertoire, which comes in the low-80s and a solid sinking changeup.
Now Rocker already has his fair amount of mileage on his arm. He logged 236.2 innings at Vanderbilt. It’s also been speculated that he’ll take his talents to the independent leagues. If he can prove that he’s healthy, he’d be an excellent pick at no. 34. Rocker is already 22-years-old, so he’d likely move up the organization quickly.