With the heartbreaking news that Texas Rangers first-round pick Kumar Rocker is going to miss at least a year after tearing a ligament in his right elbow, Mark and Manny readdress the backlash the Mets received after they drafted Rocker but couldn’t reach a contract with the talented MLBbro hurler after injury concerns surfaced.
Kumar Rocker, the third overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft will have his season cut short after Texas Rangers general manager Chris Young announced he will be having Tommy John surgery later this week.
A road of ups and downs for the former Vanderbilt star took a turn for the worse this week with the news of him needing Tommy John surgery coming out Tuesday night.
Rocker was picked 3rd overall in last year’s Major League Baseball draft after being selected by the New York Mets 10th overall in 2021, but due to an issue on his physical pertaining to his shoulder, the two parties failed to reach an agreement on a contract.
Entering this off-season, the Rangers 6th ranked prospect said he had dreams of making an impact for the Rangers on the Major League level.
“I see success, I see winning,” said Rocker in an interview with MLBbro.com last March. “It is going to be very special here in Dallas soon and I hope to be a part of it.
Rocker was pitching for the Rangers High-A affiliate in Hickory, North Carolina this season.
He had a 3.63 ERA in April with 29 strikeouts and only four walks and continued that success into his first start in May where he went six shutout innings allowing only one hit and striking out eight.
The team did not say how or when Rocker suffered the injury, but it can be assumed it happened in his final start last Thursday when he gave up five runs including the first two home runs of his professional career in 4.2 innings.
More updates will be given on Rocker’s recovery time after he has the surgery, but one would think with the long road of Tommy John recovery ahead of him, there is a chance he will not be back on the mound until late in the 2024 season or at the start of 2025.
This was the motto of Kumar Rocker after being selected 10th overall in the 2021 Draft by the Mets but failing to sign with the team after his medical information raised concerns about the right-hander’s shoulder and elbow, which he had surgery on in September 2021.
Two years after being selected for the first time and nearly a year after signing with the Rangers and being drafted 3rd overall in 2022, Rocker will begin his journey to the bigs.
The former Vanderbilt star is set to make his professional debut with High-A Hickory on Saturday against Winston-Salem.
Rocker pitched in just one game this spring training, tossing a lone eighth inning as the Rangers scored a 6-4 win over the Rockies at Surprise Stadium.
He opted to sign with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the independent Frontier League in 2022 after not securing a deal with the Mets, appearing in five games, tossing 20 innings, allowing just three earned runs and fanning 32 batters. Rocker also got time on the bump in the Arizona Fall League as part of the Surprise Saguaros. There he started in all six of his appearances, twirling 14 innings, allowing seven earned runs, walking 12 batters and striking out 18.
“I’ve known him since he was a young kid in high school and through his Vandy years, obviously last year especially,” Director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg told MLB.com. “I probably saw him seven times [last year]. Then getting up there and feeling comfortable when he was in the independent league, we felt very comfortable with the stuff — it’s actually probably a better version of Kumar right now than it was in college.”
The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder has impressed at every level. He threw a 19-strikeout no-hitter against Duke in the NCAA super regionals and earned two victories and Most Outstanding Player honors at the College World Series as a freshman in 2019, then led NCAA Division I in wins (14) and strikeouts (179 in 122 innings, tying teammate Jack Leiter) while leading Vandy back to the College World Series championship in his final collegiate season.
“He’s just an elite competitor, a guy that lays it all on the line every time he goes out there with plus-plus stuff,” Fagg said. “There’s not many guys that come around like this guy, that’s as physically gifted and competitive and driven as he is. It’s hard to find a bad thing about Kumar.”
The bright lights haven’t fazed Rocker and with his arm strengthen seemingly back to full strength, the time has come for him to simply play the game he loves, which he always does at a high level.
“This guy’s got dominating stuff, tremendous slider,” manager Bruce Bochy told MLB.com. “I’m looking forward to watching him in a few games. He’s a tremendous talent, and I think he’s going to be on a fast pace now once he gets going in the Minor Leagues.”
MLBbro.com reporter Malik Wright caught up with Texas Rangers MLBbro pitcher and 2022 first-round draft pick Kumar Rocker. Rocker is optimistic for the season. the franchise believes he has star potential and is taking it slow with his development. He’s going to start in High A ball with the Hickory Crawdads.
Every great pitching prospect has an established MLB star that they follow closely.
The last two years have been a whirlwind for Rangers No.8 prospect and the 2022 MLB Draft No.3 overall pick Kumar Rocker.
The former Vanderbilt Commodores star became the first pitcher to toss a no-hitter in the Super Regional round of the 2019 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. He also would go onto win both of his starts in the College World Series, being named MOP of the tourney.
In many aspects he was either the No.1 or No.2 pitching prospect along with teammate Jack Leiter.
After being selected No.10 overall by the New York Mets in the 2021 MLB Draft, Rocker should have been on top of the world, about to take the Big Apple by storm and join an already talented pitching staff.
The Mets did a complete about face and Mets decided against signing Rocker due to uncertainty about his health. Shoulder concerns put Rocker under the knife in September 2021, and it’s been a long rehab back. It didn’t take long for Rocker to move off the board in the 2022 MLB Draft.
The talented bro was selected No. 3 overall by the Texas Rangers, who are elated to bring a rare talent such as Rocker into its pitching-strapped organization.
Rocker Makes MLB Debut In Arizona Fall League: Taking It Slow
Rocker took the mound in the AFL on October 4th. While the burly, power-pitching phenom didn’t have the command and control he’s used to having, he still showed that bulldog grit he displayed during his illustrious college career.
The velocity on Rocker’s pitches were there and the command will come.
Rangers/ Saguaros catcher Cody Freeman was thoroughly impressed with Rocker, and he raved about his what he has in his arsenal.
“He looked really good. He was around the zone a little bit, but he got back in there and pounded it. He’s going to be something special.”
“He’s a strike thrower and he has some nasty stuff, as you could tell.”
Rocker has ace abilities and the Rangers are hoping he could one day be that for their staff.
After a promising first start, Rocker was even better in his second AFL appearance. This time tossing two innings, instead of one, Rocker was more locked in and the extra inning allowed him more opportunities to test out some of his other pitches.
He struck out two batters and walked two, the walks are all a product of rust, as he just missed the third called strike on one of the walks. His fastball hovered around 94-96 MPH and maxed out at 97.
This outing he dabbled with his change-up and his best pitch, which is his slider. The pitch he overwhelmed hitters with in the CWS and made MLB scouts salivate.
Following his performance Rocker told reporters this ….
“I was just in the zone more. The changeup was good, the slider was good. The fastball, I’m still getting the timing for that just to get everything synched up.”
Rocker says he has no expectations for his performance in the AFL. The MLBbro is just happy to be back on the mound. His minor setbacks have definitely given him an even deeper appreciation for the sport that’s provided him with so much opportunity.
“I’ve got no expectations for (the AFL). I just want to have a good time and keep winning ballgames with this team.”
Rocker is expected to take the mound four more times in the AFL, and his usage is also expected to ramp up a little more each time out.