Kumar Rocker
Kumar Rocker.jpg
Texas Rangers
Pitcher
Born: (1999-11-22) November 22, 1999 (age 22)
Watkinsville, Georgia
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Kumar Rocker (born November 22, 1999) is an American professional baseball pitcher in the Texas Rangers organization. He played college baseball for the Vanderbilt Commodores. He was selected with the 10th pick in the 2021 Major League Baseball draft by the New York Mets, but was not signed. He was selected the following year by the Texas Rangers with the third overall pick.

Amateur career

Rocker attended North Oconee High School in Bogart, Georgia. As a junior in 2017, he had a 1.63 earned run average (ERA) with 68 strikeouts in 55+23 innings.[1] That year, he played in the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game and Perfect Game All-American Classic.[2] Later in the summer, he played for the USA Baseball 18U National Team.[3]

Rocker committed to Vanderbilt University to play college baseball.[4][5] He was considered one of the top prospects for the 2018 Major League Baseball draft,[6][7] but was not selected until the 38th round by the Colorado Rockies,[8] falling due to signability concerns. He did not sign with the Rockies and enrolled at Vanderbilt.[9]

On June 8, 2019, Rocker became the first pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter in the Super Regional round during the 2019 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. He recorded 19 strikeouts as Vanderbilt beat Duke 3–0.[10] Rocker was named the 2019 College World Series Most Outstanding Player after Vanderbilt captured the 2019 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship on June 26, 2019. Rocker won both his starts in the College World Series and finished his freshman season with a 12–5 record. He was also named the 2019 Baseball America Freshman of the Year.[11]

The New York Mets selected Rocker with the 10th pick in the first round of the 2021 MLB draft. Rocker and the Mets had verbally agreed on a $6 million signing bonus, $1.4 million above the slot value for the 10th pick, but the Mets decided not to make him an offer after reviewing his medical information.[12] Rocker had not participated in a program that would have made his medical information available pre-draft; this allowed the Mets not to make him an offer and receive a compensatory selection in the 2022 MLB draft.[13] Rocker's agent, Scott Boras, stated that Rocker "requires no medical attention."[13] However, Rocker had surgery on his shoulder in September.[14] Rocker did not return to Vanderbilt after going unsigned.[15]

Professional career

In advance of the 2022 MLB draft, Rocker signed with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the Frontier League.[16] Prior to the draft, Rocker had a 1.35 ERA with 32 strikeouts and four walks in 20 innings pitched for Tri-City, reaching 99 miles per hour (159 km/h) with his fastball.[17]

Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers selected Rocker in the first round, with the third overall selection, reuniting him with his former Vanderbilt teammate Jack Leiter.[18] On July 26, 2022, Rocker signed with Texas for a $5.2 million signing bonus.[19]

Personal life

His father, Tracy Rocker, played in the National Football League (NFL),[20] is a College Football Hall of Famer[21] from Auburn University, and is the defensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.[22] His maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from India. His parents met when his mother, Lalitha, was a student at the University of Maryland and his father was playing for the Washington Redskins.[23]

References

  1. ^ Carter, Ivan (August 14, 2017). "Perfect Game participants get taste of majors". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  2. ^ Sanchez, Jesse (January 15, 2018). "Big prospect soaks up wisdom at Dream Series". Mlb.com. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  3. ^ "Rocker's summer full of travel, World Cup". Oconeeenterprise.com. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  4. ^ Matthew Caldwell (November 8, 2017). "North Oconee's Kumar Rocker signs with Vanderbilt to play baseball". Onlineathens.com. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  5. ^ "ALL-USA Watch: Top baseball prospect Kumar Rocker still weighing decision to go pro or go to Vanderbilt". Usatodayhss.com. May 1, 2018. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  6. ^ "MLB.com 2018 Prospect Watch | MLB.com". M.mlb.com. May 24, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  7. ^ "AOTW: Rocker pitching and hitting to help guide Titans to playoffs". Oconeeenterprise.com. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  8. ^ "MLB Draft Tracker". MLB.com. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  9. ^ Newman, Kyle (July 9, 2021). "Rockies have glaring needs at starting pitcher, shortstop entering 2021 MLB Draft". Denverpost.com. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  10. ^ "Vanderbilt freshman Kumar Rocker pitches first no-hitter in NCAA Super Regional history". The Tennessean. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  11. ^ Cahill, Teddy. "Kumar Rocker Named 2019 College Baseball Freshman Of The Year". www.baseballamerica.com. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  12. ^ Passan, Jeff; McDaniel, Kiley (August 1, 2021). "Mets don't sign top pick Rocker before deadline". ESPN.com.
  13. ^ a b DiComo, Anthony (August 1, 2021). "Mets opt not to sign No. 10 pick Rocker". MLB.com. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
  14. ^ "How Rocker shoulder surgery impacts his Draft status". MLB.com.
  15. ^ "Kumar Rocker does not sign with Mets before deadline, not returning to Vanderbilt". The Tennessean.
  16. ^ Franco, Anthony (May 13, 2022). "Kumar Rocker Signs With Frontier League's Tri-City ValleyCats". MLB Trade Rumors. Retrieved May 13, 2022.
  17. ^ https://www.tri-cityherald.com/sports/article263532423.html[bare URL]
  18. ^ "Rangers pick fireballer Rocker at No. 3 overall". MLB.com.
  19. ^ Grant, Evan (July 26, 2022). "Texas Rangers announce signing of first-round selection Kumar Rocker". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  20. ^ "Rocker officially signs with Vanderbilt". Oconeeenterprise.com. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  21. ^ Sparks, Adam. "Kumar Rocker leads preseason No. 1 Vanderbilt in bid for repeat title at College World Series". USA TODAY. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  22. ^ "Eagles add former Auburn star as defensive line coach". nbcsports.com. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  23. ^ Sparks, Adam (June 8, 2019). "Vanderbilt baseball: Why Kumar Rocker listened to mom, chose Commodores over big MLB payday". The Tennessean. Retrieved June 9, 2019.