2018 MLB Draft preview: Kumar Rocker scouting report.
With the 2018 MLB Draft just four weeks away — the first round kicks off on June 4, 2018 — its time to start offering capsule looks at players the Texas Rangers could select with their top picks. The Rangers’ first round pick is at #15 and their second round pick is at #55 — they have no compensatory picks this year.
Leading up to draft day, we will be doing writeups of some of the players who could end up getting selected by the Rangers with one of their first two picks. Today, we are looking at Georgia high school pitcher Kumar Rocker.
Kumar Rocker is 6’5” high school pitcher out of Georgia. He’s also the son of former Auburn Outland Trophy winner and Washington Redskin lineman Tracy Rocker, the gentleman who is in the photo accompanying this post. Rocker is listed anywhere from 235 lbs. to 250 lbs., but wherever in that range he falls, he’s clearly very big for a high schooler. The righthander has a mid-90s fastball that can touch 98 mph, as well as what has been described as a “wipeout” slider. As with most prep pitchers, he’s primarily a two pitch guy right now, with his changeup still needing a lot of work.
The various folks doing the rankings all seem to be on generally the same page when it comes to where Rocker ranks in this class. Keith Law has Rocker ranked at #12 overall in the draft class, while Baseball America has Rocker at #13. MLB Pipeline is the “low” guy on Rocker, having him at #14 overall. Fangraphs has Rocker ranked #12 in their draft rankings. Rocker is seen as a potential frontline starting pitcher, with the concerns about him mainly centering on his seeming lack of deception and whether he’ll be able to stay healthy and in shape given how big he is.
As far as the mock drafts go, MLB Pipeline has Rocker falling to #23 with the Yankees. Keith Law has Rocker going to the Colorado Rockies at #22 in his most recent mock, as does Baseball America, although BA also mentions Rocker as a potential option for the hometown Braves at #8. Fangraphs’ latest mock draft, which just came out today, has Rocker going at #38 to the Padres, though they say he is “in play” at #15 with the Rangers, as well as possibilities with several other teams in the first round.
Rocker would seem to check a variety of boxes for what the Rangers tend to select in the first round -- big, athletic, from Georgia, projectable. The Rangers took Luis Ortiz, who had (and still has) questions about his ability to keep his weight under control in 2014, so that issue wouldn’t seem to necessarily scare the Rangers off. For the Rangers to take Rocker at 15, they’d presumably have to feel comfortable about his ability to develop his changeup, which would be the difference between him being a potential major league starting pitcher and a bullpen option, as well as be confident that he’s signable, something that Fangraphs, in particular, mentions as a potential issue with Rocker.
Videos of Rocker are below: