Kumar Rocker fell into the New York Mets' laps at No. 10 overall in the 2021 MLB draft on July 11, but it now appears that the Vanderbilt pitcher is likely to slip right through their fingers.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel on Sunday morning (Aug. 1), the Mets "do not plan" to sign Rocker "barring a drastic change."
The Mets previously had agreed to sign Rocker with a $6 million signing bonus, "but the deal fell apart following his physical examination, and multiple sources said they do not expect a revised one to come together before the deadline."
The report later adds:
"Either way, the mutual excitement of July 11, the night of the draft, evaporated over the past three weeks. Rocker's camp, led by agent Scott Boras, insists he is healthy, pointing to the 122 innings he threw over 20 starts in which he struck out 179 batters with a 2.73 ERA this year. Further, sources familiar with Rocker's situation said, outside orthopedists disagreed with the Mets' assessment of Rocker's health, as can happen with multiple examinations. The Mets, sources said, expressed concerns over the health of Rocker's arm following the physical last week."
Earlier this week, Ken Davidoff of The New York Post specified the Mets' primary concern is Rocker's pitching elbow. That was additionally confirmed by MLB.com's Anthony DiComo:
.@KenDavidoff was first to report the nature of Rocker's issue. This could become a high-stakes game of chicken for the Mets and Rocker's camp (Boras Corp).— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 27, 2021
The most similar high-profile situation happened in 2014, when top overall pick Brady Aiken didn't sign with the Astros.
Rocker, 21, was unstoppable during his freshman season at Vanderbilt in 2019. The Commodores claimed their second College World Series championship behind Rocker's Most Outstanding Player performance (2-0 with a 1.46 ERA). The last time we saw him, however, he posted an 8.31 ERA across 4.1 innings pitched in a 9-0 loss to Mississippi State in the decisive Game 3 of the 2021 College World Series.
Visit Vanderbilt's official website to sift through all of Rocker's eye-popping accomplishments as a college player, but it is possible now that he returns to Vanderbilt for a redshirt junior campaign before re-entering the MLB draft in 2022.
Per ESPN, if a deal is not executed before Sunday's 5 p.m. EST deadline, New York would have the 11th overall pick next year.