Phillies draft preview: Should Philadelphia choose Kumar Rocker at #17?

TAMPA, FL – AUGUST 03: Kumar Rocker (30) of North Oconee HS (GA) delivers a pitch to the plate during the East Coast Pro Showcase on August 02, 2017, at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

In the NL East and beyond, the Phillies routinely have players that absolutely own them. Fans rejoiced when Freddie Freeman left the Atlanta Braves. The applause was also loud when Ryan Braun finally hung up his cleats. Miguel Rojas might only still be on the Marlins because he hits .312 against the Phillies.

Wouldn’t it be nice for the Phillies if they had a player that obliterated one of their bitter rivals? Imagine if there was someone that had reason to pitch a revenge game every game. A player like that might be available in the 2022 First-Year Player Draft for the Phillies.

Does the name Kumar Rocker ring a bell, Phillies fans?

Rocker was the ace of Vanderbilt’s staff in 2021. That year he started 20 games for the Commodores. He pitched 122 innings with a 2.73 ERA and a 13.2 K/9. He was one of the most hyped pitching prospects in recent memory.

In the 2021 draft, he fell to number 10…to the New York Mets.

Rocker would become the only 1st round selection in 2021 not to sign. The Mets had concerns over the health of his right arm. While his agent, Scott Boras, did reveal that he had minor surgery in the offseason, Rocker has recovered fully and even made five starts with the Frontier League Tri-City Valley Cats.

He pitched 20 innings for the independent league club, recording a 1.35 ERA.

The manager of the Valley Cats is a recognizable name for Phillies fans of a particular vintage. It’s none other than Pete Incaviglia. “Inky” is best known for being the left fielder of the 1993 NL Pennant-winning Phillies.

Inky had glowing remarks about Rocker as quoted in the New York Post.

“He’s the real deal. It’s not just his stuff that makes him, it’s his will to compete. He loves to compete. He loves to take the ball every day. Those guys are special.”

New York Post, July 16, 2022

While with the team, Rocker’s fastball was consistently in the 99 MPH range.

Rocker will turn 23 years old in November. Being an older prospect, the Phillies could look to fast-track him to the majors. With the Phillies just half a game out of a wildcard spot, Rocker could see action late in the season or even in a playoff push.

Any such promotion would depend on how Rocker would fair in, let’s say, Double-A Reading first. But with the Phillies being rumored to be looking for a college arm, Kumar Rocker would make an interesting pick at #17.

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire