We’ve concentrated on college pitching so far in our series of 2018 MLB Draft profiles, so today we’ll throw a change-up with a look at a top prep arm: right-hander Kumar Rocker from North Oconee High School in Bogart, Georgia.
Rocker has been on the radar quite a while as a frequent attendee of showcase events. The son of former NFL lineman Tracy Rocker, Kumar prefers baseball although his family background gives him an edge in understanding what professional sports are all about. He looks like a football player with his 6-5, 250 pound build, combining great strength with overall athleticism but he looks natural on the mound with a strong lower half.
Rocker’s fastball is quite good, clocked as high as 98 and consistently working at 92-95. In 2017 the heater would occasionally flatten out if his mechanics were off but that has reportedly been less of an issue this spring. Steve Fiorindo at Perfect Game noticed this back in March, writing “how consistent Rocker’s release point was as he got on top easily and creates tons of sinking life on the fastball that made it impossible to lift when located in the lower third.” The velocity comes easy.
The second pitch is a plus slider, a “wipeout” pitch in the mid-80s according to MLB.com. Rocker also has a change-up, which needs more consistency but is promising enough that scouts project him as a starting pitcher. His command is better than that of most young power pitchers and his mound presence is a plus.
A year ago Rocker was considered a top five candidate for the ‘18 draft. His stock hasn’t really dropped on its own terms but as other players have emerged, Rocker’s placement on draft boards has slipped a bit, probably towards the middle of the first round.
That raises another issue: Rocker is a Vanderbilt recruit and presents signability risk if he falls too far.
Kumar Rocker at the 2017 Perfect Game All-American Classic, video posted by Taiwan Baseball Notes:
Perfect Game video from earlier this spring