Written By: Austin F
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Kumar Rocker RHP | Vanderbilt |21 Years Old | Bat: R| Throw: R |6’4 | 255 lbs
Kumar Rocker has been a big name in the amateur baseball circuit since his Freshman season at Vanderbilt. A potential high round draft pick out of high school with a fastball that was clocked at 98 mph, Rocker fell to the Colorado Rockies in the 38th round of the 2018 MLB Draft due to a strong commitment to Vanderbilt. The Georgia native had strong consideration to go 1:1 for the 2021 MLB Draft throughout his freshman and sophomore campaigns. While Rocker’s ERA didn’t show it as a freshman, the righty’s 2019 campaign was a dominating one that included a no-hit, 19 strikeout performance against Duke in the NCAA Super Regionals. Before his sophomore season was cancelled, the Indian (mother is of Indian descent) American’s 2020 season saw him go 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA over 15 innings and struck out 28 batters while walking eight. Rocker’s season heading into the draft has been an outstanding one, despite a few rough starts that have now knocked him off the 1:1 projection. While he no longer is the projected first overall pick for this year’s draft, he is still a lethal pitching talent that will land him a spot in the top 10 picks with Commodore teammate Jack Leiter, with whom, make up the most electric and dominating 1-2 punch in all of college.
His fastball has touched 99 mph in the past; however, this spring Rocker’s fastball has been hitting 92-97 compared to his previous 94-98. His arm works quick with his fastball, but it lacks the life you’d like to see. While he shows good velocity on his fastball, he likes to pitch it up in the zone and teams that hunt fastballs have gotten to him during his junior campaign as he leaves it in a hittable part of the zone and there is not as much life on it as one would like. Rocker likes to use his fastball to start most at bats with the first pitch.
The curveball is another plus pitch. The pitch dips down with 12/6 as though it is heading towards the ground as it crosses the plate. It’s a swing and miss pitch for the big righty and he can use it to either get ahead in the count or to strike batters out. He gets a lot of batters to swing through it and his curve hits the mid-to-upper 70s and as stated earlier, just drops down towards the ground. He usually tries to locate the curve at the bottom of the zone to generate ground ball and weak contact.
Kumar Rocker’s slider is his best pitch in his repertoire and perhaps the best breaking pitch in the entire 2021 class. Like his curve, he can use it to either get ahead in the count or strike a batter out. It flashes outstanding break and sits in the mid-80s and has reached 86 mph. There is such depth to his pitch that he just makes batters look silly and swing over it. His curveball/slider combination should be one of the most lethal in the game for years to come. He will fool a lot of batters at the next level with this lethal combination.
The changeup hits mid 80s and is perhaps his least thrown pitch. With pro development it should be an above average pitch and used more as his breaking pitches are lethal enough at the collegiate level that he does not need to worry about it presently, but he does have the pitch in his arsenal. The pitch does have good depth to it and looks like his fastball until it approaches the plate then sinks.
Control | Mechanics: 40/50
His control can be a bit of a concern. His fastball needs better placement and when he’s under pressure his command can get shaky, and his breaking pitches can get away from him. With proper development, it should improve and be Major League average. He’s going to strike out a lot of batters in the pros, but a handful of walks will come with it. Rocker’s windup looks old school as he brings his arms over his head during his windup and his leg above his belt, almost touching his left elbow. There’s not a lot of effort with pitches and he pitches from a mid-3/4s arm slot. He repeats his mechanics and his delivery changes when he’s pitching out of the stretch. His leg straightens out more in his leg kick and it looks as though he’s working in more of a hurry. Most of Rocker’s control issues happen out of the stretch as it appears as though he’s trying to do too much. When Rocker is on top of his game, he works quickly and can fool anyone while pounding the outside part of the plate. His breaking pitches are lethal, and he knows how to work the count with them.
Future Value: 60
While Rocker’s fastball lacks a bit of life and he could improve his location, it will fit nicely with the rest of his arsenal as it does hit mid to upper 90s and his curveball/slider combination will be lethal. He has the build to be an innings eater in the MLB and with his pitch repertoire, he will be hard to hit and will accumulate a lot of strikeouts. His command needs improvement and walks will come with those strikeout totals, but his walk accumulation won’t be that much of a concern. He possesses a lot of depth with his breaking pitches and knows how to work the count. He’s a top of the rotation talent that works quickly and could fast track through the minors with professional development.