Kumar Rocker Needs Tommy John Surgery In First MiLB Season After Mets Passed On Former Vandy Ace Over Elbow Concerns

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Kumar Rocker is one of the most interesting case studies in recent baseball history. The former Vanderbilt ace was a top-10 MLB Draft pick in back-to-back years, but will undergo Tommy John surgery after just six starts on the minor league level.

How did we get to this point? Let’s break it down.

Rocker, an Under Armour and Perfect Game All-American, was one of the top prospects at his position out of high school and committed to play for the Commodores. As a result, he was not drafted until the 38th round of the 2019 MLB Draft and ultimately chose not to sign so that he could play college ball.

Although Rocker was lights out in the SEC, his breakthrough moment came during the NCAA Super Regionals. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound righty recorded 18 (!!) strikeouts in a no-hitter against Duke.

It was the first no-hitter in Super Regional history.

At that point, if he wasn’t already, Rocker was on everybody’s radar. He went on to finish his three-year college career with a 2.89 ERA and 321 strikeouts while facing 967 batters in 236.2 innings pitched.

As a result of his impressive career with the Vandy Boys, Rocker was drafted No. 10 by the New York Mets in 2021. The two sides had verbally agreed on a $6 million signing bonus, but it never came to fruition.

After reviewing his medical information — which was not made available before the draft — the Mets were allowed to rescind their offer. Rocker had minor shoulder surgery, but the bigger concern stemmed from an injury to his throwing elbow.

Agent Scott Boras said that his client “requires no medical attention,” but Rocker’s career was in limbo. Rather than returning to college, Rocker pitched 20 strong innings of independent league ball.

And then, in the 2022 MLB Draft, the Texas Rangers surprised everyone by drafting Rocker with the No. 3 pick. He spent last season with the Arizona Fall League and was off to a solid start on the High-A level in 2023.

Rocker was sporting a 3.86 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 28 pitches.

However, after just six MiLB starts, his year is over. Rocker’s elbow — which was a concern for New York two years ago — officially gave out. He will undergo Tommy John Surgery.

It is unclear as to whether the concerns that the Mets had with Rocker’s elbow have a direct correlation to his injury in 2023. Either way, whether New York was right or wrong, the organization dodged the problem all together.

Fortunately, in today’s day and age, Tommy John is not a death sentence. Rocker does not need to be put out to pasture. It’s just a big hit to his development, and the Rangers are surely bummed.

Written by Grayson Weir

Grayson doesn't drink coffee. He wakes up Jacked.

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