Monday, August 15, 2022

2022 MLB Draft: Kumar Rocker goes No. 3 to Rangers in draft-night surprise

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In the biggest surprise of the draft so far, Kumar Rocker was drafted by the Texas Rangers with the No. 3 pick. Rocker had previously been selected with the No. 10 pick in last summer’s draft, but he went unsigned after the New York Mets were dissatisfied with his physical.

Rocker entered the summer ranked by CBS Sports as the No. 25 prospect in the class. Here’s what we wrote at the time: 

Dear aspiring prospect writers, when in doubt, listen to your cowardly heart and rank the class’s most famous player in an inoffensive spot; that way, whichever direction the wind blows, you’ll get to enjoy the breeze. Rocker, who previously suffered from overexposure, was absent from most of this year’s cycle after the Mets failed to sign him following his selection at No. 10 overall in last year’s draft. He resurfaced recently in the Frontier League, running his fastball up to 99 mph and overwhelming indy-league hitters with a 70-grade slider. Heraclitus said that no man steps in the same river twice, for neither he nor the river are the same. Even if Rocker was the same — and he’s not, if only in age — the river has changed. The industry was already skeptical about him because of his lagging changeup and the potential command and durability concerns created by his mechanical deficiencies; now, there’s also the matter of last summer’s post-draft physical that caused the Mets to bail. We have to write that it does feel silly to obsess over what could go wrong with Rocker’s arm in a draft where almost every other top pitcher already has an elbow zipper. We’re guessing some team will come to the same conclusion and select Rocker in the mid-to-late first round.

Rocker made five starts as a member of the Tri-City Valley Cats, amassing a 1.35 ERA and a 8.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 20 innings pitched. Clearly, the Rangers liked what they saw enough to select him and pair him again with former Vanderbilt teammate Jack Leiter.

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