December 3, 2023

He’s about to get here. Yes, the draft of Major League Baseball (scheduled to begin Sunday, July 17), but also the conclusion of Kumar Rucker’s year-long saga that saw him go from more season-prone to relative mystery.

Rocker has been on the national radar since 2019 when he delivered 19 hits at the NCAA Super Regionals as a member of the Vanderbilt staff. Last summer, he was drafted by the New York Mets with the 10th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. A post-draft study revealed something the Mets didn’t want to see, and it caused negotiations between the two sides to falter. The Mets were compensated with the eleventh pick in this summer’s draft while Rocker retained his eligibility for another season, ensuring his third pick. (He was a late pick by the Colorado Rockies out of high school but he didn’t sign.)

Rucker had a few options, including returning to Vanderbilt for another season or turning professional by joining an independent or international league team. (If you’re wondering how a pro can still qualify for the enlistment…well, welcome to the MLB Monopoly.) He chose to disappear from public life in the first half of the year, leading a high-ranking scouting official with one team to tell CBS Sports he was The hardest player to get new information about this draft cycle.

during the Weekend, ESPN reports that Rucker underwent shoulder surgery last September, describing it as a “small band” on his right arm. He has since appeared again on the Proof of Life tour as a member of the Tri-City Valley Cats, an unaffiliated team in the Frontier League. He added four starts to his resume as Valley Cat, racking up a 1.35 ERA and 32 strokes in 20 rounds against substandard competition. The truth is that Rucker’s performance in the Frontier League does not mean that he gives teams some peace of mind about his current well-being. In that regard, his time with the Valley Cats was a success: a Scout present for one of his starts clocked a fastball speed of 99 mph and rated his slide as a 70 on a 20-80 scale, or plus—plus—plus presenting this is Frontier Elite. If Rocker is hacked, it makes sense that the quality of his stuff will come out a lot.

However, there is a chasm and there will always be a gap between the public perception of Rucker – that he is, essentially, a good expert at making it – and the industry’s more moderate reading of it. The difference is due to the reservations that scouts and analysts have about the depth of his arsenal (it lacks a good change) and how his mechanics will affect his long-term driving and endurance. (The last talking point is unlikely to fade any time soon given the Mets’ assessment last summer.)

However, here at CBS Sports Rocker we’ve ranked the top 25 odds in this category, noting that it’s ridiculous to grab so much of what’s going on. may be His arm occurs when nearly every top bowler in this category has elbow or shoulder problems. Besides, the risk of injury is present with any bowler; This is the warp and weft of things. So our expectation for him is that a team will roll the dice before the end of the first round, albeit, probably, out of the top ten.

Then? Who knows what will happen to Rocker. We know it would be tough work for any college player at the top when it came to the amount and duration of attention he was able to summon before throwing a minor league pitch. It’s been a trip for the past three years, but if we’re to guess, Rucker would probably be happy to get close to his destination, wherever that may be.

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