Arlington, Texas— The Texas Rangers tonight selected right-handed pitcher Kumar Rocker in the first round (third overall) of the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft. This year marks the sixth time the Rangers have ever picked as high as third overall in the draft, along with selections in 1973 (1st), 1974 (2nd), 1983 (3rd), 1985 (3rd), and 2021 (2nd).
This is the second consecutive year that the 22-year-old Rocker has 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 has made 5 starts with the Tri-City Valley Cats of the independent Frontier League this summer, going 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA (3 ER/20.0 IP) and 4 walks against 32 strikeouts for a rate of 14.4 strikeouts per 9 innings. He has posted a 0.750 WHIP figure for the team based in Troy, NY, a club managed by former Rangers slugger Pete Incaviglia. He recorded 7 strikeouts in each of his final 3 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. The Athens, Ga. native 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 have selected a former Vanderbilt starting pitcher with the club's top pick, joining right-handed pitcher Jack Leiter, who was selected second overall by Texas in 2021.
Rocker will be the Rangers’ only selection on Day 1, as the club forfeited its second round selection due to the signing of free agent Marcus Semien. The draft continues on Monday, July 18 at 1:00 p.m. CT with rounds 3-10 and concludes on Tuesday, July 19 beginning at 1:00 p.m. CT with rounds 11-20. Texas will have the third pick in each of Rounds 4-20, as the club forfeited its third round selection due to the signing of free agent Corey Seager.