Twins take college slugger Rooker at No. 35
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins added a power bat with the No. 35 overall pick in the MLB Draft on Monday night, selecting outfielder Brent Rooker from Mississippi State.
Rooker, ranked as the No. 50 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, was the SEC Player of the Year and led NCAA Division I in doubles (29), slugging (.858) and OPS (1.371) as a redshirt junior. Rooker, at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, also moves well for a big man, showing average run times out of the batter's box and even more quickness once he gets going. His 21 homers were the fifth most in the nation, and he also stole 18 bases.
"He had a great year," Twins scouting director Sean Johnson said. "We thought he was one of the best bats left on the board. We had our fingers crossed. It was 30 picks, but it felt like seven hours in that room. We're glad he made it."
Rooker was the second straight position player taken by the Twins after they selected high school shortstop Royce Lewis with the No. 1 overall pick. Rooker combines power and patience with a keen eye for the strike zone, drawing 41 walks compared to 48 strikeouts. He also excelled against top competition, batting a combined .333/.429/.639 on Friday nights in SEC play, which is when opposing clubs usually start their ace.
Rooker, 22, is considered an advanced prospect, and could be fast-tracked to the Majors. But defense remains a question mark, as he moved to first base this season, but the Twins will try him as a corner outfielder. He's expected to skip Rookie level.
"Rooker is an older college player, so he should be on the fast track," Johnson said. "We're looking at maybe [Class A] Cedar Rapids or [Class A Advanced] Fort Myers. He's an accomplished hitter at an advanced age."
Rooker was drafted by the Twins last year in the 38th round, but he didn't sign. Johnson said they weren't close to signing him, and Rooker vowed he'd improve enough to be a first-rounder. He didn't quite make the traditional first round, but the pick, which is part of the Competitive Balance round, has a slot value of $1,935,300.
Rooker is also an impressive athlete, and he was a three-sport star at Evangelical Christian School in Germantown, Tenn. Rooker hit .430 with nine home runs as a senior. He also led his high school to the Division 2-A State Championship Game in football, collecting 3,300 yards of total offense with 33 touchdowns, and he was named a 2013 Tennessee Mr. Football finalist after setting 18 school records. He also played basketball.
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage beginning at noon CT.