Kumar Rocker won’t be rocking out in Queens after all.
The Mets and Rocker, the 10th overall pick out of Vanderbilt in the recent MLB Draft, couldn’t reach an agreement before Sunday’s signing deadline passed.
Reportedly, a deal fell apart after a physical showed issues with his pitching elbow.
That means Rocker won’t be a Met. Meanwhile, the Mets will get a compensation pick instead. It will be the 11th pick in 2022.
Mets fans should be heartbroken. Many thought Kumar could be the next Dwight Gooden.
Entering the 2021 season, Rocker was labeled as the consensus No. 1 pick in this year’s draft.
He most notably put his name on the map after his performance during Vandy’s 2019 College World Series run. Rocker threw a 19-strikeout, no-hitter against Duke, which was the first ever thrown no-no in a Super Regional.
VANDERBILT’S KUMAR ROCKER JUST MADE HISTORY! pic.twitter.com/Q05eYikbbR
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) June 9, 2019
Vanderbilt would go on to win the College World Series and would have been heavy favorites to repeat in 2020 on the shoulders of Rocker’s 1.80 ERA in three starts before the season was ended due to the Covid pandemic.
Rocker was a workhorse for the Commodores in the 2021 season.
He had a 14-4 record through 20 starts. He pitched 122 innings and struck out 179 batters on his way to posting a 2.73 ERA.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 12, 2021
He, along with second overall pick Jack Leiter – who signed with the Texas Rangers – helped lead Vandy to another appearance in the College World Series this year.
And after the final series was tied at a win a piece, Rocker was selected to take the bump in the winner-take-all Game 3.
However, he did not have command and struggled early as he only lasted 4 ⅓ innings allowing five runs on six strikeouts and taking the loss to champion Mississippi State.
That was the final start of Rocker’s college career, or so we thought. He entered the 2021 draft and surprisingly to most expert draft boards, fell all the way to 10 to the New York Mets.
It seemed like a match made in heaven.
Rocker, who has been under a microscope of pressure since high school, is made for the bright lights of New York and their media.
He also would have a chance to join Black Knights Taijuan Walker and Marcus Stroman as African-American starters in the Mets rotation.
Rocker and the Mets had an agreement on a $6 million deal but after a physical “supposedly” showed issues with his elbow, things fell apart.
However, this is where the situation gets a little dicey:
— themetsuniverse (@themetsuniverse) August 1, 2021
Rocker is represented by super agent Scott Boras who along with Rocker’s camp, insist that he is healthy, according to sources.
It was also reported that orthopedists outside of the Mets’ organization disagree with the assessment that Mets’ doctors gave on the health of Rocker.
Before the draft, Rocker was selected to be a part of the MLB pre-draft MRI program which allows all 30 teams to have a player’s medical information, but since he did not participate (which is common for players going high in the draft) the Mets will be awarded the 11th overall pick in the 2022 Draft as compensation in exchange for not offering Rocker a contract.
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.”
That adds a whole other dimension to baseball’s rule that doesn’t allow a player to sign with any other team if they can’t come to terms on a deal.
Kumar Rocker tonight against Tennessee:
7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K
— MLB Draft (@MLBDraft) April 17, 2021
Once again, we are left to question the decisions made by the Mets’ front office. In addition to losing Rocker, they also sent away their 2020 first-round pick Pete Crow-Armstrong, who they drafted out of high school to the Chicago Cubs earlier this week.
Since 2016 the Mets have drafted seven players in the first round, including Seattle Mariners MLBbro pitcher Justin Dunn and top prospect outfielder Jared Kelenic.
However, only two of those picks are currently still in the organization.