Minnesota Twins 2018 MLB Draft first round selection roundtable discussion

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SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 5: Commissioner Allan H. Bud Selig announces the fifth overall pick of Nick Gordon by the Minnesota Twins during the MLB First-Year Player Draft at the MLB Network Studio on June 5, 2014 in Secacucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 5: Commissioner Allan H. Bud Selig announces the fifth overall pick of Nick Gordon by the Minnesota Twins during the MLB First-Year Player Draft at the MLB Network Studio on June 5, 2014 in Secacucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Kumar Rocker, RHP, North Oconee HS (Georgia)

written by Linda Hodgin

Kumar Rocker is an interesting player. I’ll admit, I initially looked into him because his name is just cool, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. He’s the son of former NFL lineman and Georgia defensive line coach Tracy Rocker. Kumar definitely looks like an NFL lineman standing on the mound at 6’5 and 250 lbs. That’s not a typo, this is a BIG kid. Scouts agree though, his size only adds to his power.

Rocker is a right handed pitcher who is set to graduate high school this year and whose rank is debatable among draft experts. He’s been placed as high as 8th and as low as 23rd. Most drafts have him going somewhere in the middle of the first round. It might be a stretch to think the Twins would have a shot at him, but there’s a kicker: He’s also verbally committed to Vanderbilt and he seems genuinely conflicted by his decision. It’s entirely possible that a club won’t want to give up a high pick on a kid who might change his mind.

As for what he could bring to the Twins, Rocker’s fastball tops out at 98 mph. He consistently hits between 92-95. He’s also got a mid-80’s slider that looks nasty on film and he’s been working on developing a change up, which would make him ideal in a starting pitching role. Pitching is a spot, as all Twins fans know, the club has struggled with over the recent years. Scouts are in agreement that his command is there, better than most pitchers his age.

Physically, Rocker is obviously intimidating on the mound. His lower half is strong and powerful, which makes his release and delivery look effortless. That lower body strength could benefit him as he gets older taking some of the pressure off of his throwing arm and upper body. Most scouts say that there may even be room to improve upon his size as he comes through the ranks. At 18 years old, he already has the size and mound presence that most pitching coaches only dream of.

This certainly is not the safest pick for the Twins or really any first round team. If Rocker falls too far in the draft, there’s a distinct possibility that he will choose Vanderbilt over the MLB. He also has some room to improve his change up and ideally develop a fourth pitch to cement his status as a starting pitcher. That said, Rocker appears to be the real deal and, again, he’s only 18. He could be a long term investment for a club like Minnesota who is known for being patient with player development. If he can fall to the Twins, I think he would be more than worth taking a chance on.

(Reports and info from: USA Today High School Sports, Perfect Game USA, SB Nation Minor League Baseball)

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