Rangers prospect Kumar Rocker will have Tommy John surgery, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Rocker, 23, has a higher profile than the typical High-A prospect given the drama that has surrounded him in recent years. He was one of the most highly-touted youngsters going into the 2021 draft and was selected 10th overall by the Mets. Shortly after the draft, it was reported that he and the club were going to agree to a $6MM signing bonus, above the $4.7399MM slot value for the pick. However, the two sides would eventually be unable to come to an agreement when the club reportedly grew concerned by something in Rocker’s right elbow.
Having his plans to jump into affiliated ball scuttled, Rocker pivoted to sign with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the independent Frontier League, eventually tossing 20 innings for them last summer. The Rangers then selected him with the third overall pick in last year’s draft, quickly agreeing to terms on a $5.2MM bonus that was below the $7,587,600 slot value of the pick.
After all of that runaround, Rocker was finally able to join the affiliated ranks this year. He made six starts for the High-A Hickory Crawdads, posting a 3.86 ERA in 28 innings. He struck out a huge 37.8% of batters faced against a 6.3% walk rate, getting grounders at a 51.6% clip. Earlier today, MLB Pipeline tweeted that they had just added Rocker to their list of the top 100 prospects in the league, just about 25 minutes before the news dropped that he would have to go under the knife.
Rocker will now be out of action for the rest of 2023 and at least part of 2024 as well, given the typical 14 to 18 months required to rehab from Tommy John surgery. It’s an unfortunate setback for a pitcher who has already dealt with a few twists and turns on his road to the big leagues. He isn’t yet on the club’s 40-man roster and won’t even be Rule 5 eligible until after the 2025 season.