The Yankees have a long list of right-handed pitching prospects coming down the pipeline, but that doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to get anything from it. Luis Severino is the first legitimate starting pitcher the organization has produced in years. Even with all the talent currently sitting in the system, only a few of them will even reach the majors. For that reason, it’s still a good idea to get the best available player, even if that means taking another righty with the 23rd pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.
Perfect Game seems to agree with this idea, because they have the Yankees taking Kumar Rocker in the first round. Rocker comes out of North Oconee High School in Georgia and can be described as something of a big dude at six-foot-five, 250 pounds. He is the son of former NFL defensive lineman Tracy Rocker, and is described as having a football build with a very physical and powerful presence on the mound.
Rocker uses his build to generate a lot of velocity on his fastball, with MLB.com rating it as a 70-grade pitch on the 20-80. He has proven himself able to work at 92-96 mph and can even touch triple digits at times. The right-hander pairs the pitch with a wipeout slider and average changeup. Fittingly, he ranks as the 23rd-best prospect in this year’s MLB Draft, which gives the Yankees a realistic shot at drafting him this year.
That being said, the Yankees are going to have to pay him the big bucks for him to forgo his commitment to Vanderbilt. Evaluators have been following Kumar Rocker for some time now, and is considered one of the best high school arms in the 2018 draft class. Unfortunately, their familiarity with him may have allowed other arms to jump in front of him and push him down the draft list. This could ultimately cause him to choose school if he isn’t taken high enough.
Despite his incredible fastball and powerful body, Rocker will have a few things to work on if he choses to turn pro out of high school. His control is about average, but inconsistencies cause him to struggle at times. He just needs to iron out his mechanics and there should be nothing to worry about here. Rocker will also have to focus on developing his changeup. Right now he is mainly a two-pitch pitchers, but evaluators are said to be confident that he will develop a third pitch in order to stick in the rotation.
The Yankees have been linked to many gifted young athletes this draft season, but no one has been as highly regarded as Kumar Rocker. He is easily the best player any mock draft has given the Yankees this year. If this organization can come away with a get like Rocker, they would be very happy, and we all would be too.