The Texas Rangers announced Tuesday that right-handed pitching prospect Kumar Rocker has a torn ligament in his right elbow and will undergo Tommy John surgery.
Rocker, 23, is the Rangers’ No. 6 prospect, recently added to MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list. The Rangers selected Rocker with the third overall selection in the 2022 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Vanderbilt. His selection came one year after the New York Mets made him the 10th overall pick in 2021. New York declined to sign him after reviewing his medical information.
Texas went forward with signing the former Commodores standout, giving him a $5.2 million signing bonus. Rangers general manager Chris Young said after the draft he felt comfortable with the pick.
“We’re extremely comfortable with the medical review that our medical team has done,” Young said. “Obviously, Kumar has been under the care of one of the leading orthopedic surgeons in the world. He’s been in great supervision throughout his rehab, he’s been pitching healthy. We’re very comfortable with the medical review and that’s why we drafted him.”
Young said the injury is new, and not related to the previous concerns with his physical.
“Chris Young says this was an “acute” injury suffered on the mound, completely different from anything Rangers had seen in exams. Young recognized there was risk with pick. There is risk with all pitching,” Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News tweeted.
Kumar Rocker headed for long rehab process after injury diagnosis
Rather than returning to Vanderbilt after the deal with New York fell through, Rocker signed with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the Frontier League. Rocker was dominant in 20 innings of work, pitching to a 1.35 ERA with 32 strikeouts and four walks. He made six starts this season for High-A Hickory, recording a 3.86 ERA with 42 punchouts and seven walks in 28 innings.
Rocker dazzled during his three seasons at Vanderbilt, becoming one of the best pitchers in college baseball. He made 42 appearances (39 starts), compiling a 28-10 record to go along with a 2.89 ERA with 321 strikeouts and 68 walks in 236.2 innings pitched. The ace of the Commodores’ rotation, Rocker threw a 19-strikeout no-hitter against Duke in the 2019 NCAA Super Regional and led the program to a national title victory that same season.