On MLB Draft day it appeared the New York Mets had gotten the steal of the draft when former Vanderbilt Commodores pitcher Kumar Rocker fell to the 10th pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.
The next Dwight Gooden? 👀 https://t.co/JNn41oEfh4
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeague) July 12, 2021
However, in a seemingly strange turn of events the team and the hard-throwing pitcher have parted ways. The team had until Sunday at 5PM Eastern standard time to get a deal done and they didn’t.
Rocker and the Mets had a deal in place to sign for $6 million, but that fell apart following Rucker’s physical evaluation, which led to concern from the Mets over the health of Rocker’s arm. The hope of many Mets fans was that a last minute deal could be reached. But the Mets did not change their stance.
However, Rocker’s agent, Scott Boras says his pitcher is totally healthy, which makes you scratch your head. Were the Mets just penny-pinchign with a potential franchise pitcher?
Rocker’s agent Scott Boras said in a statement, “Kumar Rocker is healthy according to independent medical review by multiple prominent baseball orthopedic surgeons. Immediately upon conclusion of his collegiate seasons, he had an MRI on both his shoulder and his elbow. When compared with his 2018 MRIs, the medical experts found no significant change. Kumar requires no medical attention and will continue to pitch in the regular course as he prepares to begin his professional career.”
Per NCAA and MLB rules Rocker will be able to return to Vandy or choose an alternate path, such as pitching in an independent league OT international league.
The big sturdy right-hander tossed over just 122 innings in 20 starts this season at the college baseball powerhouse, striking out 179 batters while posting a 2.73 ERA to make him one of the elite arms available in the MLB Draft.
He and Jack Leiter formed the most dominating duo in all of college baseball. Rocker became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the 2019 Super Regional round of the College World Series.
That outing helped lead the Commodores to the CWS title, and he took home the MVP trophy. Further solidifying himself as a future big league pitcher with star potential.
Of course Rocker’a camp disputes the notion that he isn’t healthy, and sourced familiar with the the flamethrowing right-hander pointed to outside orthopedists who also disagreed with the Mets assessment of their high draft pick.
The Mets offer of $6M was well above the allotted $4.74M assigned price tag for the 10th overall pick. By not signing Rocker, the Mets will receive a compensatory first-round pick, which would be the 11th overall, in the 2022 draft.
That’s not set in stone as of yet though with the possibility of a rule change in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, as the current one is set to expire in December 2021.
The NL East leading Mets have some very solid pitchers on staff, and a great one in Jacob DeGrom (arguably baseball’s best hurler) when healthy. They also have melananated mound mauraders Marcus Stroman, Taijuan Walker.
But Rocker is special and for them not to be willing to sign him makes you wonder if there was something non baseball-related with him, which deterred this move from being finalized.
I mean the guy was downright dominant on college’s biggest stage, and yes I know the New York media market is tough on high draft picks of any sport, but I truly believe Rocker would’ve handled them with ease.
His next move will be interesting as I don’t see him returning to Vandy, but I do see another franchise getting lucky and grabbing him in the 2022 draft.
Rocker has the “It” factor which makes him a Black Ace type talent.