Will the Cincinnati Reds take a flier on Kumar Rocker in Round 1 of the 2022 MLB Draft?

Vanderbilt Commodores starting pitcher Kumar Rocker (80) pitches.
Vanderbilt Commodores starting pitcher Kumar Rocker (80) pitches. / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Former Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker might be the most intriguing player to keep an eye on during Round 1 of the 2022 MLB Draft. Might the Cincinnati Reds be in position to take Rocker at No. 18?

Rocker was drafted by the New York Mets with the 10th overall selection in last year's draft, but the two sides never came to an agreement after concerns arose regarding the right-hander's post-draft physical.

It was revealed recently that Rocker underwent shoulder surgery this past fall, but according to Jim Callis of MLB.com, there seems to be a great deal of optimism among multiple front office executives that the former Commodore will got in the first round.

Will the Reds take a flier on RHP Kumar Rocker?

Kumar Rocker has the experience and the talent to pitch tomorrow in the major leagues. After a very successful career at Vanderbilt University, Rocker entered last year's draft as one of the top pitching prospects.

After the New York Mets said no thanks, rather than returning to college, Rocker rehabbed during the offseason and pitched for the Tri-City ValleyCats of the Frontier League this past spring. Rocker went 1-0 in five starts and posted a 1.35 ERA with 32 punch outs in 20 innings of work.

Kumar Rocker may benefit greatly from the large number of injured starting pitchers from the college ranks who are draft eligible this season. Blade Tidwell missed a good chunk of action for Tennessee this season, Alabama's Connor Prielipp missed the whole 2022 season following Tommy John surgery, and Arkansas's Peyton Pallette is recovering from Tommy John surgery as well.

Rocker has a plus-fastball and MLB Pipeline grades the right-hander's slider at a 70. At worst, Rocker would be an advanced arm that could find his way into the Cincinnati Reds bullpen very quickly. With compensatory pick (No. 32) shortly after Round 1, perhaps the Reds will take the chance and select Kumar Rocker with their first pick on Sunday.

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