The Texas Rangers surprised a lot of folks when they selected 2021 first round pick, Kumar Rocker, in the first round of the 2022 MLB Draft. The surprise wasn’t that Rocker re-entered the draft, it was that they selected a player with significant injury questions with the No. 3 overall pick.
Rocker was still expected to go in the first, he just wasn’t thought of as an option in the top-10. The Mets opted to part ways with the former Vanderbilt ace because they didn’t feel comfortable with his medicals (presumed shoulder). The medicals/shoulder obviously didn’t dissuade Texas.
The Kumar Rocker selection was as much about Rocker as it was about Brock Porter for the Texas Rangers.
When the Rangers announced this week Rocker was going to undergo Tommy John surgery, the sentiment around the league was, “bet you regret that pick” or “guess the Mets were right.”
While the surgery certainly puts a damper on Rocker’s development, it doesn’t make the pick a bust nor does it make the Mets “right.” No matter how you look at this, his injury is brand new and in no way related to his previous medicals.
To clear something up: the Mets presumably didn’t like his shoulder. His surgery is for an elbow. They are not related because the injury is brand-spankin’ new. There are no “I told you sos” to be awarded in this direction. If anything, the Rangers proved his previous injuries weren’t a big deal.
It was a calculated reach that eventually got them their two favorite pitchers in the draft.
Something else people seem to be missing is big picture of the draft. The Rocker selection was as much about Rocker himself as it was about another pitcher in the draft, Brock Porter.
Porter, the top high school pitching prospect in the draft, was committed to play ball in college. Unless an MLB team wowed him with over-slot money, he was on track for the NCAA. The Rangers had their sights set on both Rocker and Porter.
The Texas Rangers knew if they could sign Rocker for below slot money, they could sign Porter to above slot money. By over-drafting Rocker, they knew they could convince him to take less (which he agreed to). It was a calculated reach that eventually got them their two favorite pitchers in the draft.
Porter was only supposed to get $560,200 but he ended up with $3.7 million. the Rangers were only able to do that because they had a plan in place with Rocker.
Fast-forward to today and Porter is a top-100 prospect and looking strong with the Down East Wood Ducks. If it wasn’t for Rocker, he’d be in college right now.
Rocker gave the Texas Rangers Brock Porter in a way. He cooperated and facilitated the selection. It’s also important to point out Tommy John isn’t a big deal in the big picture. It will set Rocker’s development back a year but it won’t have long-term negative effects. It will provide Rocker ample time to get the rest of his body rested and allow him to bounce back all the better for it.
The Texas Rangers shouldn’t regret the Kumar Rocker pick because it allowed them to get Porter, and both players have the potential to be key assets in the future.