Kumar Rocker may be the most intriguing player in the 2022 MLB Draft. He had originally been selected with the tenth overall pick in the 2021 Draft by the New York Mets, only for the Mets to fail to tender a contract after they were concerned about his medicals. Rocker decided that he was not going to return to Vanderbilt, instead signing with the Tri-City ValleyCats ahead of the draft.
Those concerns, and the relative lack of information about Rocker, had led to his falling down draft boards. He was expected to be a second round selection, one of the riskier propositions in the draft. Now, he is rocketing up the draft boards again, and could be worth the 19th overall pick which is owned by the Oakland A’s.
Oakland A’s need to consider Kumar Rocker with 19th selection
Rocker has answered those questions with his performance for the ValleyCats. He has allowed just four runs, three earned, on 11 hits and four walks over his 20 innings, striking out 32 batters. His fastball is sitting in the upper 90s once again, those velocity fluctuations from 2021 seemingly a thing of the past.
There are still some concerns with Rocker. He did undergo what has been termed “a minor scope” of his right arm in September. His fastball and slider are plus offerings, but he needs to find consistency with a third pitch. There is the concern that he will end up as a reliever if he is unable to develop that third offering.
But he is worth the risk for the A’s. While he has that reliever risk, Rocker could also be a top of the rotation arm if he develops as hoped. The A’s simply do not have that type of pitcher in their system; Gunnar Hoglund and J.T. Ginn are both viewed as back of the rotation arms. Ryan Cusick also has an excellent fastball/slider combo, but his own lack of a third pitch could make him a reliever as well.
Rocker would be something that the A’s desperately need – a potential ace that they could build a rotation around. Even with all the possible risks, the A’s need to give him a look, especially since they do not have anyone else in the system that could be that top of the rotation arm they need.
Kumar Rocker is flying up the draft rankings. If he is still there with the 19th overall selection, he would make sense for the Oakland A’s.