[Bryan Kurp | WOUB]

Joe Rock’s Journey From Viking, To Bobcat, To The Colorado Rockies

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Former Ohio pitcher Joe Rock heard his name called 68th overall in this summer’s Major League Baseball Draft.  Rock is the highest-drafted left-handed pitcher in program history.

Ohio head baseball coach Craig Moore knew Rock was going to be something special going back to his high school days.  Rock was the ace pitcher at Hopewell High School in Western Pa.

“I saw him throw a 25-pitch bullpen and he was probably, at that time, he was probably 6′-4″, 155 pounds. But the arm-work, you can see there was a skill set that can be pretty special someday,” Moore said of Rock’s abilities as a high school sophomore.

Rock was 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA that year at Hopewell.  As a junior, he was an all-section pitcher with an 8-3 record, 1.30 ERA and 108 strikeouts.

He garnered the attention of several power-five baseball programs, but elected to go to Ohio University because of the solid baseball program and a specialized academic program offered at Ohio.

“I wanted to go to Ohio because they have a good aviation school,” Rock said.  “Being able to get two things at once was a no-brainer for me.”

Rock continued to polish his game in Athens, which set him up to succeed at the next level.  Scouts filled the seats at Bob Wren Stadium and Rock climbed into the top-100 MLB Draft prospect list entering his junior season.

Joe Rock delivers a pitch for the Bobcats
Joe Rock delivers a pitch against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Bob Wren Stadium on Friday, March 5, 2021, in Athens, OH. Ohio defeated Milwaukee 14-3. [Chris J. Day | WOUB]
“I went in there and they gave me the opportunity to play,” Rock said. “I went in there, worked my butt off and put me in a great position to help my team and helped me out in the long run.”

Rock’s experienced tragedy in February, just weeks before the 2021 season started.  His mother died after a battle with cancer.

Just a few weeks later, in Ohio’s first home game of the season, Rock threw a seven-inning no-hitter against Morehead State.

Rock went on to have a strong junior season with the Bobcats — finishing with an 8-3 record, 2.33 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 88.2 innings pitched.

On July 12, Rock got the phone call he and his mother had been dreaming of for years. He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies.

“It was awesome,” Rock said.  “It’s an awesome feeling to know that the hard work I put in my whole life has paid off.  I know she wanted to be here but I knew she was still here and it was a rewarding moment for everybody.”

Rock and his father held a cookout at their house in Pennsylvania with family and friends in attendance when he was drafted.

Moore knows Rock will do whatever it takes to make it to the big leagues.

“Joe’s going to be a great locker room guy.  He’s going to be a team guy,” Moore said.  “Number one: he’s going to work his tail off because he knows what he wants.  He’s going to be pitching in Denver here in the next two to three years.”

Rock has similar plans in mind.

“My goal is to get to Coors Field as quick as possible and hopefully within the next couple years, I’ll be at the All-Star Game being an all-star pitcher, if not a starter.  That’s a goal to get to the big leagues as quick as possible.”

Rock traveled to Colorado a few weeks back for a physical and officially signed a contract with the Rockies for his full slot value, $953,100.

He will begin his professional journey this summer in Arizona at the Rockies’ rookie camp.