The 2022 MLB Draft had a huge shocker early on, with the Texas Rangers taking pitcher Kumar Rocker at #3 overall. Rocker, who had a very successful three year run at Vanderbilt University from 2019-21, was drafted 10th overall by the New York Mets in 2021, but the team pulled its reported $6 million offer due to concerns over Rocker’s medicals.
Per the beats, Rangers g.m. Chris Young addressed Rocker’s health from the outset today, saying that the organization was “extremely comfortable” with the medical review done. The medicals seemed to be the biggest question mark on Rocker, so if you are satisfied with the risk there, well, it would make sense you’d be comfortable taking Rocker early and paying him a large signing bonus.
Rocker was at one point thought to be a candidate to go first overall in the 2021 draft, but inconsistency in his junior season saw him slip on the boards. The Rangers followed him closely, however, and reports were that the team liked Rocker a lot last year. In his work in the Indy League, he was hitting 99 mph on his fastball and showing his wipeout slider, so the stuff that has wowed scouts since his high school days appears to be still be there.
Health aside, there are questions about whether Rocker’s command will improve to the point that he can hit his #2 starter ceiling, and there are some who think he may end up as a reliever, which, of course, would be disappointing for the #3 overall pick. That said, he should move fairly quickly and has a real shot at being an impact starting pitcher. With Rocker joining his former Vandy teammate, Jack Leiter, as well as Owen White and Cole Winn, Texas has an impressive bevy of high-upside arms in the upper levels of their system.