Mets fail to sign Kumar Rocker, 10th overall draft pick

Sports

FILE – In this Friday, June 25, 2021, file photo, Vanderbilt starting pitcher Kumar Rocker (80) throws against North Carolina State in the first inning of a baseball game at the College World Series, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. The New York Mets failed to sign Rocker, their top pick from the 2021 amateur draft, by the 5 p.m. EDT deadline, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, over concern about his medical scans. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz, File)

The New York Mets failed to sign their top pick from last month’s amateur draft, Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker, by Sunday’s 5 p.m. EDT deadline, over concern about his medical scans.

New York selected Rocker with the 10th overall pick and will receive an extra selection in next year’s amateur draft, the pick after the 10th choice, because of their failure to sign the 21-year-old right-hander.

The Mets lost the $4,739,900 slot value available for draft signings that was assigned to Rocker’s pick.

“This is clearly not the outcome we had hoped for and wish Kumar nothing but success moving forward,” Mets acting general manager Zack Scott said in a statement.

Rocker was a junior and is eligible to return to Vanderbilt for his senior season.

“Kumar Rocker is healthy according to independent medical review by multiple prominent baseball orthopedic surgeons,” his representative, Scott Boras, said in a statement. “Immediately upon conclusion of his collegiate season, he had an MRI on both his shoulder and his elbow. When compared with his 2018 MRIs, the medical experts found no significant change. Kumar requires no medical attention and will continue to pitch in the regular course as he prepares to begin his professional career.”

Rocker was the only player among the first 29 first-round picks who failed to sign.

Two players finalized agreements on the final day.

Arizona signed Jordan Lawair, a shortstop from Jesuit College Prep in Texas, for $6,713,300, and Miami signed Marlins, Kahlil Watson, a shortstop from Wake Forest High School in North Carolina, for $4,540,790.

This year’s amateur draft was cut from 40 rounds to 20 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last year’s draft was reduced to five rounds.

The Mets spent $3,407,900 of the $4,286,400 remaining in their signing bonus pool, reaching agreements with their other nine picks in the first round. Failing to sign Rocker left $878,500 unspent.

Texas signed Oregon right-hander Aaron Zavala, the 38th overall pick, for $830,000.

The second-highest pick who failed to sign was Florida outfielder Fabian Jud, also a junior, who was selected by Boston 40th overall.

Pittsburgh signed right-hander Owen Kellington, a high school pitcher for Vermont, for $600,000 after taking him 102nd.

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