Mississippi State University first baseman/outfielder Brent Rooker is having a monstrous season: he’s hitting .403/.509/.913 through 46 games, with 23 doubles, 19 homers, 29 walks, and 36 strikeouts in 172 at-bats. He’s even swiping bases, with 17 attempts.
When the college season began he was viewed as a potential mid-round candidate, but his stunning campaign has moved him up and he could get into the first round. Let’s take a look.
Rooker is from Germantown, Tennessee, where he was a baseball, football, and basketball star. Not drafted out of high school, he went to Mississippi State University where he took a redshirt season as a freshman in 2014. A bench player in 2015, he hit .257/.325/.378 in 74 at-bats. In 2016 he was given the opportunity to play regularly and performed well, hitting .324/.376/.578. Despite this he fell to the 38th round of the draft, where he was selected by the Minnesota Twins.
Rooker decided to return for his junior year and this was obviously wise: as noted above he has been devastating, setting up for a much larger bonus check this spring.
He’s listed at 6-4, 215, a right-handed hitter and thrower, born November 1, 1994.
Performance-wise, there’s nothing not to like here: his numbers are outstanding and the SEC is the premier circuit in college baseball. Lest you think the gaudy numbers are a result of the metal bat, Rooker has also hit very well with wooden bats in college summer ball, hitting .360/.413/.604 in the 2015 New England Collegiate League and .305/.335/.426 in the 2016 Cape Cod League. Wherever he goes, he hits.
Tools-wise, Rooker is a fine all-around athlete. His raw power is rated as above average, 55 or 60 depending on the source, but he gets to it easily. He’s mobile for his size, with average running speed but possessing the instincts to use it well on the bases. His arm is likewise average, but he proved capable of handling right field as a sophomore. While he’s playing first base this year, a pro team could move him back to an outfield corner without hurting themselves.
Intangibles-wise, he’s shown the necessary work ethic to succeed, refining his swing and sharpening his strike zone judgment over the last year.
Despite his track record with wooden bats, Rooker will need to show that his plate discipline and swing mechanics will hold up against the most advanced pitching, something that has been doubted in the past. The redshirt freshman year also means he’s a year older that the typical college junior, already 22. These factors aren’t enough to keep him from being a hot commodity, but they may keep him out of the early parts of the first round.
On balance Rooker looks like a late first round or supplemental round pick, although a team looking to save a bit of bonus money for later picks may be tempted to cut a deal and pick him as early as the middle of the first round.
From Moore Baseball