Quick Bit: Kumar Rocker reunites with college teammate Jack Leiter in the Texas system. The Rangers’ front office seems confident in its choice.
In the 2021 MLB Draft, Vanderbilt aces Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker were drafted second and 10th overall, respectively. Leiter went to the Rangers; Rocker was picked by the Mets but didn’t sign.
One year later, Leiter and Rocker will be reunited. Rocker was selected third overall by Texas in the 2022 draft.
Rocker, who failed a post-draft physical with the Mets last year, was approached with trepidation in this year’s draft. He underwent shoulder surgery last fall and mum was the word on his recovery, but he signed with the Tri-City ValleyCats in the independent Frontier League last spring and impressed the Rangers enough to take him at No. 3.
Perhaps adding to Rocker’s allure was his reported willingness to take an under-slot deal, allowing Texas to save $2 million, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Why did the Rangers take Kumar Rocker third overall?
Rangers GM Chris Young and senior director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg had strong words of praise for Rocker.
“For me he’s just an elite competitor,” Fagg said. “A guy that lays it all out on the line every time he goes out there — with plus stuff. The kind of guy you look for that are going to be winners for your big league team, and that’s what we see in Kumar.”
“He’s somebody that brings a competitive intensity, not only between the lines, but in everything he does,” Young added. “That elevates his teammates. And that’s something that’s really special.”
Perhaps most importantly, the Rangers seemed comfortable with Rocker’s medicals, which were the biggest question mark about him heading into this year’s draft.
What does Kumar Rocker bring to the Rangers organization?
After months of radio silence, Rocker’s reemergence with Tri-City was a successful one. He showcased a 99 mph fastball and one of the stronger sliders in the draft, and he overwhelmed independent league opposition.
The Rangers said they had done years of background on Rocker, and that may be true. He has been on a lot of teams’ radars for a long time, and it seems as if every pitcher in the draft has a medical history. But Rocker needs to pay off in this slot.
The Rangers are looking to turn a corner soon, and the hope is that Leiter and Rocker can become a 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation for years to come.
You could say that Leiter, who’s pitching at Double-A, is a little excited.
If nothing else, the Rocker pick paints a picture of a team looking to shore itself up, one position at a time. Whether or not that’s the right angle to take, only time will tell.
Originally found on Sporting News Read More