No. 36 – RHP Kumar Rocker
Nobody would have thought that Kumar Rocker would take this path into affiliated baseball, but his journey has been convoluted and full of twists and turns. After entering 2021 as one of the top 3 draft prospects in the draft, Rocker fell to no. 10, the New York Mets, after a strong season at Vanderbilt, but one with erratic velocity. Questions then arose about Rocker’s physicals, and a deal with the Mets fell through.
After that deal fell through, Rocker eventually made his way to pro-ball this year, signing with the Frontier League’s Tri-City ValleyCats. He’s dominated Frontier League batters, owing a 1.35 ERA, striking out 32 in just 20 innings, and allowing four to reach via free pass. But those numbers don’t do Rocker justice.
Rocker has been averaging around 94-96 MPH and hitting 97-98 MPH regularly. His slider has always been considered elite and was arguably the best breaking ball in last year’s draft. He’ll also throw a curveball with plus-plus potential and a solid changeup. It’s a four-pitch mix where all four play to an average to elite level.
Seeing the Pittsburgh Pirates get Rocker would give this system the big-time pitching prospect it needs. Rocker is 22-years-old with 20 innings at a professional level. He’d arguably be on the doorstep of the major leagues by this time next season.
Plus, could you imagine the Pittsburgh Pirates going into the 2023 All-Star Break with a rotation headed by Rocker, Roansy Contreras, Mike Burrows, and Quinn Priester? If everyone is healthy, that’s a starting rotation that could win a lot of baseball games.