The New York Mets are not expected to sign their first-round pick of the 2021 MLB Draft, Vanderbilt standout pitcher Kumar Rocker, according to Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN just hours before the 5 p.m. ET deadline on Sunday for teams to sign their selections.
Rocker was initially viewed as one of the steals of the draft after he slipped down to the Mets at No. 10 before the two parties reportedly had a $6 million deal in place before things fell through. The evaporation of the deal derives from Mets doctors deeming that Rocker’s arm is not completely healthy.
His agent Scott Boras, and neutral orthopedists do not agree with Mets doctors, maintaining the belief that the 21-year-old righty is fully healthy and ready to contribute to the organization.
Should he not sign, Rocker’s path is uncertain — should that mean he returns to Vanderbilt for another collegiate season or if he attempts to catch on in Independent ball for a year. The Mets would receive the 11th pick in the 2022 draft as compensation.
Rocker was ranked the fifth-best prospect by Baseball America and sixth-best by MLB Pipeline leading up to the 2021 draft. He was regarded as the No. 2 pitcher in the entire 2021 draft class behind only Jack Leiter — his Vanderbilt teammate who went second overall to the Texas Rangers.
During his 2021 season at Vanderbilt, Rocker went 14-4 with a 2.73 ERA, 179 strikeouts, and 39 walks in 20 starts. Those 14 wins were tops in NCAA Division I while his punchouts were tied for first with Leiter. Over his three college seasons, he went 28-10 with a 2.89 ERA and 321 strikeouts.