Kumar Rocker’s Stint in Frontier League Pays Off, Drafted Third Overall in 2022 MLB Draft

The third time really does seem to be the charm for Kumar Rocker after being selected as the third overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers.

Rocker was previously drafted out of high school in the 38th round in 2018 by the Colorado Rockies and out of Vanderbilt University in the 1st round (10th overall) by the New York Mets last year but did not sign either time.

The Mets ultimately decided not to offer him a contract citing medical concerns.

Those medical concerns were never fully stated or understood – both Rocker’s agent, Scott Boras, and Vanderbilt coach, Tim Corbin, denied that there were any medical concerns surrounding the right-handed pitcher who compiled a 28-10 record with a 2.89 ERA overall in his three seasons with Vanderbilt.

However, Rocker did have minor shoulder surgery this past off season.

Rocker’s agent, Scott Boras, told ESPN that, “We have a very clear understanding, after a minor scope, of Kumar’s medically documented health, which has allowed him to perform at the highest levels.” Boras told ESPN that the surgery did not involve Rocker’s rotator cuff or labrum.

Rocker’s team informed MLB clubs of the procedure prior to this year’s MLB Draft.

Tennessean

Instead of returning to Vanderbilt for his senior season, Rocker elected to play professional baseball with the Tri-City ValleyCats in the Frontier League.

Tri-City ValleyCats pitcher Kumar Rocker during a Frontier League game against the Trois-Rivieres Aigles at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on the Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY, on Saturday, June 4, 2022. (Jim Franco/Special to the Times Union)

Rocker had 5 starts with the ValleyCats and ended his stint with a 1-0 record and a 1.35 ERA over 20 innings.

While with the ValleyCats, he built up from 40 to a high of 69 pitches over his five starts. In his last start, Rocker threw about 12 pitches at 98 mph and showed command of his secondary pitches. “We just needed to illustrate he was Kumar being Kumar and that’s kind of what the purpose of being with the ‘Cats was and he accomplished all that” said Boras.

After his final start with the ValleyCats, Rocker reflected a bit on indy ball: “This is the point where players make a difference,” Rocker said. “This is the guys who stay in the game a long time. There’s a lot of baseball-for-lifers here and it’s special to be around these guys in the locker room and things like that.”

According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, The Texas Rangers and Kumar Rocker have agreed to terms on a $5.2MM deal, which is well below slot value but still $460,000+ more than last year’s No. 10 slot with the Mets last year.

The Frontier League is “Charting a New Frontier” This Season

Big changes are coming to the Frontier League this season.

New teams are finally getting a chance to debut in the Frontier League this year. Back in 2020 (before COVID canceled the season), the Frontier League merged with the CAN-AM League and announced that three new Canadian teams would be joining the Frontier. Then last year, travel restrictions forced the three teams to merge into one, Equipe Quebec, for the 2021 season.

With restrictions lifted, all three teams – Québec Capitales, the Trois-Rivières Aigles, and the Ottawa Titans – will be playing in the league this season.

Then in an unexpected turn of events, The Southern Illinois Miners owners ceased operations after 14 years. This forced the league to add a travel team, the Empire State Greys, that will be owned and operated by the Empire League.

Games will be broadcasted on a new platform this year. The league announced that they are making a switch over to FloSports for all Frontier League teams and games this season. Read the official press release HERE for more information on the new streaming deal.

The All-Star game will also return this year. The game will be held in Washington, PA with multi-day celebration that includes: a celebrity softball game (Saturday July 16th), IWC Pro Wrestling event (Sunday July 17th), the Eli Young Band in concert (Tuesday July 19th) and finally concluding with the All-Star game on Wednesday. For more information or to purchase tickets, check out the press release HERE.

In addition, BaseballCloud and Yakkertech will be providing player analytics. “[They] will work with the Frontier League to bring live data to fans, starting with metrics on scoreboards and TV broadcasts and growing into in-stadium mobile apps and games. Future projects include broadcasting and instant replay enhancements, umpiring solutions, player biomechanics capture, and virtual reality experiences.” For more information about the partnership, check out the official press release HERE.

Finally, all of these changes deserve a new look for the league and its branding. The Frontier League announced a new website including a new statistical platform and as well as new logos.

The new website and statistics will be provided by PrestoSports.

The league also unveiled a new logo that includes both the Canadian and American markets. “The new Frontier League logo, created by Brian Gundell Design, features patriotic symbolism representing both the Canadian (red) and United States (blue) markets.  The compass logo displays the navigation of new, unchartered territories, while the upward direction is indicative of the League’s always forward-looking approach.”

The Frontier League will officially begin its 29th season tonight, May 12th, with three games on the schedule: Tri-City Valley Cats vs Florence Y’alls, Sussex County Miners vs New York Boulders, and Joliet Slammers vs Windy City Thunderbolts.

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