The 2018 MLB Draft is just a couple of months away and we are starting to get a much better sense of the tiers of prospects within it as well as players that teams are starting to become connected to players based on who shows up to their games to scout them, etc. However, it is still early in that particular process as most teams are still doing their due diligence on a bunch of players before really beginning to target specific guys.
The Braves are in sort of a weird spot in this year’s draft between a draft positions that appears, for the moment anyways, to be just outside the top tier of draft prospects this year as well as a slightly diminished bonus pool due to the sanctions placed on the team due to the shenanigans under former general manager John Coppolella. Whether or not the Braves will miss out on one of the top guys due to their position with the eighth overall pick remains to be seen, but in Fangraphs’ mock draft that they posted yesterday, they have the Braves going with a Georgia prep pitcher with big-time stuff and a couple of questions.
Rocker is a very interesting draft prospect and was an early contender for a potential selection near the very top of the draft, but his stock has slipped a bit as the draft season has gone on. The young righty features two plus pitches with a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s and can touch 98 at times and a wicked slider that misses bats with regularity. He also has a big, durable frame as he is listed at 6’5 and 250 pounds, although that does likely mean he is, physically, near his peak right now as opposed to having more physical projectability.
There are a few questions surrounding Rocker. Despite the big time stuff, there have been times where he has been knocked around more than he should with his stuff as his fastball is a hittable pitch when he doesn’t get late sink on it. His changeup lags behind his fastball and slider as well (which is far from uncommon in the prep ranks) and there are folks that worry about his overall command going forward.
There is a signability issue with Kumar as well, as the Vanderbilt commitment has apparently let some people know that it is going to take a hefty bonus, requiring an overslot bonus even at #8, to keep him from going to college. Given that the Braves already lost a draft pick in the 2018 draft, this pick could be prove to be problematic as the draft goes on.
You should go read the mock above, but other players that were mocked in the general area of the Braves’ pick include prep righty Carter Stewart, Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, and college lefty Ryan Rolison.