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.
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.