Arlington, Texas — The Texas Rangers this morning announced the signing of right-handed pitcher Kumar Rocker, the team’s first round selection (third overall pick) in last week’s 2022 Major League Baseball Draft.
“The Texas Rangers are excited to have Kumar Rocker joining our organization,” said Executive Vice President and General Manager Chris Young. “Kumar is an elite competitor with the potential to make a major contribution for the Rangers, and we look forward to watching his development. We will be working with Kumar in the short term on the appropriate training and pitching program for the remainder of the 2022 season.”
The Rangers have scheduled a press conference to formally introduce Rocker on Thursday, August 4 at Globe Life Field at a time to be announced.
This was the second consecutive year that the 22-year-old Rocker had been selected in the first round of the MLB Draft, as he was the 10th overall pick by the New York Mets in 2021. He did not sign with the Mets before last year’s August 1 deadline, and re-entered this year’s draft.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound right-hander from Athens, GA made five starts with the Tri-City Valley Cats of the independent Frontier League earlier this summer, going 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA (3 ER/20.0 IP) and four walks against 32 strikeouts for a rate of 14.4 strikeouts per 9 innings. He posted a 0.750 WHIP figure for the team based in Troy, NY, a club managed by former Rangers slugger Pete Incaviglia. He recorded seven strikeouts in each of his final three starts for the Valley Cats, earning a win in his last outing on July 1 vs. Empire State (5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R-0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO).
Rocker went 28-10 with a 2.89 ERA over 42 games/39 starts across three seasons at Vanderbilt University from 2019-21, including 14-4 with a 3.17 ERA and 13.2 strikeouts per 9 innings in 20 starts as a junior for his final collegiate campaign. He was a unanimous first team All-American and finalist for both the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy in 2021, when he led the nation with 14 wins and 179 strikeouts. Rocker was a freshman on the Commodores’ 2019 College World Series championship team, when he was selected winner of the CWS Most Outstanding Player.
This is the second consecutive year in which the Rangers selected and signed a former Vanderbilt starting pitcher with the club’s top pick, Right-handed pitcher Jack Leiter was taken second overall by Texas in 2021 and is currently pitching for Double-A Frisco.