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MLB Draft 2022: Could the Rays draft Kumar Rocker?

His draft stock is tumbling from No. 10 overall in 2021, but will he fall to the bottom of the first round?

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Baseball Championship Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

CBS Sports posted its top 50 MLB draft prospects 2022, and it makes for an interesting read when there isn’t much else to consider at this point in the off-season.

Check it out here - MLB draft prospects 2022: Ranking top 50 players in the class

Thanks to the Rays having a 100 win record in 2021, the AL East champions will be drafting 29th overall in 2022 which typically would not net one of the most famous draft prospects of the last two years. The ranking from RJ Anderson at CBS Sports, however, lines up an interesting opportunity for the Rays.

Rocker was originally drafted by the Mets at No. 10 overall in 2021, but the team was not satisfied with his medical and did not sign the player before the end of the negotiating period. Accordingly, Rocker spent a year on the shelf, and tumbles in this year’s draft ranking to No. 30 overall, one slot below where the Rays are picking.

30. Kumar Rocker, RHP, Unaffiliated

Scouts already had reservations about Rocker’s durability, as well his command and his arsenal’s depth; he’s unlikely to resolve those perceived issues in what seems certain to amount to a proof-of-life start or two this summer. He should come off the board sometime in the first round on the strength of his track record and his hellacious slider[...]

Of course any ranking of prospects does not guarantee where they will go. Hype for players will rise and fall between now and the draft (as the article says, “These rankings are merely a snapshot in time; not an unchanging edict that rules all.”). Beyond rankings, MLB teams go into the annual draft with financial restrictions or strategies that can impact who gets drafted where as well.

Nevertheless, Rocker is a famous name, and is therefore shaping up to be a surprise for a fanbase whose franchise is selecting near the end of the first round. And as for his fit in the Rays system, we already know Tampa Bay values a top tier slider, and the organization has had luck thus far in stretching out elite arms that want to start but have red flags on their draft profile for durability (e.g. Shane McClanahan). If he is available when the Rays selection comes up — as this preseason draft ranking indicates might happen — it will surely be a tempting selection for Tampa Bay.