Baseball Prospect Journal

Joe Rock has made strides at Ohio

Joe Rock Ohio Athletics

Joe Rock lacked consistency with his control and command in his first season at Ohio University in 2019. The left-handed pitcher nearly recorded as many walks as strikeouts in 59 innings in his freshman campaign.

But over the last two years, Rock has made strides on the mound. He’s refined his pitches, cleaned up his mechanics and added strength to his frame.

This season, Rock is off to a noteworthy start. He has dominated opposing hitters in his first three starts of the season, including throwing a seven-inning no-hitter against Morehead State on Feb. 26.

Rock’s success has vaulted him up MLB draft boards. Scouts currently project him as a potential first-round pick in July’s draft. He likely will become the highest-drafted pitcher in Ohio University history, surpassing Dave Tobik, who went in the third round in 1974.

“It has been awesome,” Rock said. “It is another factor that drives me to do better and better each time. I want to go out there and ultimately put my team in the best situation to win, and I want to show people what I can do here at Ohio.”

As a freshman in 2019, Rock posted a 5.19 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 37 walks allowed in 59 innings. After redshirting in 2020, Rock is off to a tremendous start this season. He has a 1.00 ERA with 30 strikeouts and six walks allowed in 18 innings. He has allowed just two runs and nine hits.

Rock is a 6-foot-6, 220-pound left-hander who throws a four-seam fastball, two-seamer, slider and changeup from a lower arm slot and delivery that features some deception.

Although he has two fastballs, Rock mainly uses his four-seamer. It sits in the mid-90s and features horizontal riding life. He locates the pitch well in all the strike zone quadrants.

His slider is his best off-speed pitch. His low-80s slider tunnels well off his fastball and has sweeping breaking action.

Rock primarily uses his fastball-slider combination but will occasionally mix in his changeup. He has found a comfortable changeup grip after tinkering with the grip during his first two years. He hasn’t thrown his changeup much this season, however.

“I would my biggest strength is my ability to locate pitches wherever I want to throw them,” Rock said. “It has been key to my start this season.”

Rock has commanded his arsenal well this season. Besides gaining more comfort in his changeup, Rock wants to refine his control and command of his three-pitch mix to prove he has the attributes to thrive as a starter in professional baseball.

“Over the rest of the year, I just want to throw strikes. It’s important to not get too ahead of myself,” Rock said. “I want to continue attacking hitters, regardless of who it is in the lineup. I want to continue to pound the zone.”

The Bobcats compete in a highly talented Mid-American Conference. They have not had a winning season since 2017, which marks their last NCAA tournament appearance.

Rock hopes the Bobcats can capture the conference title and qualify for postseason play in what might be his final collegiate season.

“We just need to stay locked in,” Rock said. “With not having the conference tournament this year, we need to be ready to go from Game 1 to Game 40, which is our last game. We can’t take our foot off the gas.”

Read more in-depth stories on top 2021 MLB draft prospects at Baseball Prospect Journal.

Video of Joe Rock

Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He has interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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