Mets fail to sign first-round pick Kumar Rocker amid health concerns

The New York Mets took Valderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker in the 2021 MLB Draft a few weeks ago. He slid to the tenth spot and the Mets pounced, knowing that they could somewhat offer solutions for the reason he fell that far (mostly, a high signing bonus that would be way over slot.)

However, it was recently discovered that there are some discouraging elements with his arm, and the Mets opted not to sign the big right-hander, who will have to wait until 2022 to re-enter the draft and play professionally in the United States.

The Mets will receive next year’s eleventh selection in the first round as compensation for failing to sign the righty.

Per SNY Andy Martino, “the hiccups in talks began before last Thursday, when Rocker took his Mets physical. Folks around the Mets have been speculating on the subject at least since last Wednesday. Rocker has not been deemed to need Tommy John surgery or any other elbow procedure at this time. Although Rocker’s velocity dropped this year at Vanderbilt, he was pitching healthy through the end of the College World Series. Sources outside of Rocker’s camp affirm that Vandy was not hiding or aware of any injuries. Sources inside Rocker’s camp note that he made 42 consecutive starts and never had a physical issue in college.”

A messy situation for the Mets and Rocker

Both sides had agreed to a $6 million signing bonus, way over the slot value for a tenth overall pick. At one point it became clear that Rocker’s camp wouldn’t accept less than the initially agreed money.

The deadline for the Mets to sign Rocker passed on Sunday at 5:01 pm ET.

Rocker’s agent Scott Boras released the following statement to Martino as the news broke.

“Kumar Rocker is healthy according to independent medical review by multiple prominent baseball orthopedic surgeons,” Boras said. “Immediately upon conclusion of his collegiate season, 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.”

Mets Draft Vandy’s Kumar Rocker With The 10th Pick Of The MLB Draft

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The New York Mets get their man in the 2021 MLB Draft as they take Kumar Rocker with the 10th overall pick. Rocker was the projected number one pick heading into this year’s college season. Inconsistent fastball velocity and Jack Leiter’s emergence forced him to slide to the Mets’ pick.

Rocker is 21-years old and is 6’5″ and 245 pounds, and was a dominant force during his time at Vanderbilt. Despite falling to ten in the draft, Rocker is still one of the top prospects not just in the Mets organization but in all of baseball. In his final season at Vandy, Rocker went 14-4 in 122 innings with 179 strikeouts and a .170 batting average against. His 2.73 ERA usually keeps a potential #1 pick in the draft, but nine other teams felt differently.

Rocker features a fastball sitting anywhere from 92-97 with a power slider that he can manipulate to move in different directions. His fastball velocity was a major question due to some starts varying from the low to mid-90s but working in the Mets organization will maximize his potential. Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and the rest of their staff have done a terrific job with their pitching this year and potentially being in the same locker room as Jacob deGrom will do plenty to help him.

Before Rocker even throws a pitch for the Mets, this seems like the steal of the draft. Rocker is loaded with potential, has glowing reviews as a teammate, and is a terrific worker. Adding him is the beginning to revamping a weakened Mets farm system and finding sustained future success.