Kumar Rucker’s successful return to the heap could improve his MLB Draft stock

Kumar Rucker was a talented first-rounder who dropped out of high school in 2018, but made himself unremarkable and went to Vanderbilt, capturing the attention of the broader baseball audience with no batting in the elimination game at the Super Regionals. When he was eligible to enlist again last year as a junior, he was mets take it with 10The tenth pick , but a post-draft body reveal something led to The club refused to offer him a contract Absolutely. They got the eleventh choice this year MLB . Project as compensation, while Rocker returns to the draft set.

His 2022 season kicked off Saturday night in Troy, New York, and he threw four starting innings for the Tri-City ValleyCats of the Independent Frontier League. And if you didn’t know something was wrong, you’d think Rocker would be a Top 10 again.

Roker’s speed was as good as ever on Saturday, hitting 98 mph multiple times and was 95-98 mph over his four innings, racing through the Trois-Rivieres arrangement the first time before he had little trouble in the fourth inning. The Rocker showed four pitches, just as he did when I saw him last year, with two such smash balls hitting each other and changing him clearly the fourth pitch in his group. He showed a better sense of his broken things after the first half, when he threw a few curve balls without much conviction, but both pitches were above average when he started rolling, with the slider going up to 89 mph and the curve ball showing a tighter spin.

That wasn’t the level of competition Rucker faced on Friday nights at the SEC, so while he threw 43 out of 60 strike pitches (72 percent), it was more control than leadership. He seemed to get a little tired in the fourth inning, with his hitting, unruly ground, and running into his turf allowing him to break a hanging ball. The only noticeable difference from last year was that his armhole was slightly lower. I don’t know if it’s by design, but it’s something to watch from now on.

However, this hitter from 2019 deserves more mention. The rocker hit 19 hitters on that outing and required 131 hits to do so. In the past five complete MLB In seasons, only three shooters have thrown no fewer than 130 throws in a match; No one was under 25 when he did it. Rocker was 19 at the time of not hitting and was visibly exhausted—or perhaps exhausted—by the time the game was over. It shouldn’t have been there, even if it looked like a “date” at the time. We know that throwing the ball while tired increases the risk of injury. We’ve seen him overuse it, to the point where no Major League Baseball team has ever thought of a pitcher at his age. If Rucker turns out to be suffering from an injury to his arm—and to be clear, we don’t know for sure, only that the Mets saw something they didn’t like—we should at least consider whether that 131-court outing has anything to do with it.

As for Rucker’s draft status this year, if he’s submitted like this two or three more times, keeps his stuff for longer outings and shows more driving, he’ll probably be back in the first round. If any team doing the top drafting decides their medicine is clean/not a concern, it’s a top 10 talent in the class. The probability of one team deciding that seems pretty high, but if I’m going to put money on this I’d bet it happens in the back half of the round, where the opportunity cost is lower – I think Citizens with Lucas Giolitoor the guardians With Brady Aiken. I saw PadresGM AJ Preller is there, along with no fewer than four other director scouts or CEOs from other teams who are drafting after selecting the Padres in the 15th pick.

This was definitely enough for the show to move him back up to everyone’s favorites lists, at least for now, and he can continue to build on it and try to dispel any concerns about his health by demonstrating that sheer speed over and over again.

(Kumar Rucker photo in 2021: Stephen Branscombe/USA Today Sports)