When the New York Mets yesterday selected pitcher Kumar Rocker with their first pick, 10th overall, in the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft, many baseball insiders believed they could have pulled of the biggest steal of the draft.
Sure, Rocker’s fastball velocity went up and down during the college season, causing him to drop below the predicted seventh or eight slots in the draft. But the former Vanderbilt righty managed to post a 14-4 record with a 2.73 ERA along with 179 strikeouts in 122 innings pitched in 20 starts this past season.
Rocker, the son of Tracy Rocker, a College Football Hall of Famer and ex-NFL defensive lineman, sports one of the best sliders in the 2021 draft class and his fastball has been registered as high as 99 mph, according to MLB scouts.
After the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim passed on the hulking 6-foot-5, 245-pound Rocker, the Mets’ draft board collectively celebrated.
“Don’t walk past the obvious,” Mets scouting director Marc Tramuta said shortly after the team called in its selection of Rocker at No. 10, which is posted on Mets.com. “For us, this was an obvious pick. This is an extremely talented young man that we just couldn’t pass.”
New York’s vice president of amateur scouting Tommy Tanous concurred.
“We really thought there was very little chance this would happen,” Tommy Tanous added.
With Rocker’s advanced talent, it is conceivable that the Athens, Ga., native could advance through New York’s system in a year or two.
While New York did not talk much about moving him quickly through its minors, the thought of a one-two punch of Jacob deGrom–who has not shown any sign of slowing down–and Rocker at the front of the rotation in short time should bring nothing but excitement to Mets fans.
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— Jerry Del Priore