When Rooker returned to Mississippi State for his redshirt junior season in 2017, after the Twins took him in the 38th round of the 2016 Draft, he hoped a strong campaign would catapult him up Draft boards. The gamble paid off, as he was the Southeastern Conference player of the year and jumped all the way up to pick No. 35 overall. He went straight to Double-A for his first full season after a strong pro debut, then up to Triple-A in 2019. His career was interrupted by two different injuries, a wrist strain early and a groin contusion late, but he played well for Team USA in Olympic qualifying games last fall.
Rooker’s calling card remains his bat, though he has become much more power over hit than when he first entered the Twins system. The right-handed hitter has tremendous raw power with the ability to get to it regularly in games. While he sees a lot of pitches and draws walks, the strikeouts have become an issue and his K rate spiked to 34.7 percent in 2019. If he can mitigate the swing and miss enough with better pitch selection, he has the chance to be a very dangerous big league hitter.
The Twins had Rooker playing left field all year in 2019, focusing on the one position instead of bouncing back and forth between first and the outfield. He’s worked hard and he’s approaching being capable now, but in the end it’s his bat that will get him to Minnesota, with time at DH a strong possibility.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 40 | Overall: 50
The Twins liked Rooker a bit in 2016 after he turned in a decent redshirt sophomore season at Mississippi State, taking a flier on him in the 38th round. He went back to school rather than sign and had a huge year, catapulting him into first-round consideration. The Twins were ready again, this time getting their man at No. 35 overall and signing him for full pick value. After a huge pro debut in the summer of 2017, Rooker was pushed to Double-A for his first full season, where he hit for power, but saw other parts of his offensive game regress.
There is no question that Rooker's best position is batter's box. He's looking more like a power-over-hit type of offensive player, one with legitimate raw pop. He's always had swing and miss to his game, and his strikeout rate spiked with the aggressive move to Double-A. It's offset somewhat by his ability to draw walks and there's some hope that at his peak, he'll be a bit more well-rounded as a hitter than he was in 2018. He should be a good enough hitter for that power to play at any level.
The big question surrounding Rooker is where he might play defensively. He saw time at first and left field in 2018, and the plan is to give him a consistent time split at both. He's below-average in both spots, with the hope that he can become adequate enough at one so he's not a DH at a very young age.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
After a solid redshirt sophomore season at Mississippi State in 2016, Rooker was drafted by the Twins in the 38th round and nearly signed before opting to head back to school. That decision paid off as he hit his way into first-round consideration, and the Twins were happy to take him again in 2017, this time with the 35th overall pick in the Draft. He made it up to the Florida State League during his summer debut and managed to finish second in the system in home runs.
During his final season at Mississipi State, Rooker changed his set up at the plate, learning to use his lower half more and shortening up his stroke. It made him a better overall hitter, one who could tap into his considerable raw power more consistently, and that carried over into his pro debut. A total of 18 homers in 62 games might be too much to ask long term, but the Twins feel Rooker's plus power is legit and will continue to play. There's some swing and miss to his game, but he also draws walks. A first baseman in college, the Twins sent the deceptively athletic Rooker to left field during his pro debut, and that's where he'll continue to get the bulk of his playing time.
The Twins have typically been a bit more methodical in the past in terms of development, but Rooker's skills at the plate should allow him to test that and continue to move quickly towards Minnesota.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
The Twins drafted Rooker in the 38th round of the 2016 Draft after he had a strong redshirt sophomore season, but he opted to return to Mississippi State. It turned out to be a wise move, as Rooker was the Southeastern Conference player of the year and hit himself up to the No. 35 overall pick, where the Twins finally got their man to sign for full pick value.
Rooker hit well with wood bats in summer leagues several times over, so a transition to the pro game shouldn't be too tough. His offensive game rose to a new level this spring when he adjusted his swing, used his lower half more and quickened his right-handed stroke. He showed an ability to get to his power more consistently, with improved plate discipline another contributing factor.
Rooker runs better than you'd think given his size, with average run times out of the box and more once he gets going. He played first at Mississippi State, but he had played the outfield previously and the Twins sent him out to start his pro career in left field.