ARLINGTON, Texas — Third overall pick Kumar Rocker signed with the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, a week after the right-handed pitcher was drafted again and a year after concerns over a physical led to him going unsigned by the New York Mets as the 10th overall pick.
Rocker got a $5.2 million bonus from the Rangers. That is well below the slot value of nearly $7.6 million for the third overall pick.
After shoulder surgery last September, Rocker opened this year with the Tri-City ValleyCats in the independent Frontier League. He was 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in five starts, with 32 strikeouts and four walks over 20 innings.
The Rangers will initially send Rocker to their facility in Arizona before deciding where and when he will pitch in their organization.
“Kumar is an elite competitor with the potential to make a major contribution for the Rangers, and we look forward to watching his development,” Texas general manager Chris Young said. “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 6-foot-5, 245-pound Rocker was 28-10 with a 2.89 ERA over 42 games from 2019-21 at Vanderbilt University, where he was teammates with right-hander Jack Leiter. The Rangers drafted Leiter with the second overall pick last summer, and he is now pitching at Double-A Frisco.
Rocker was the only first-round pick in the 2021 amateur baseball draft that went unsigned. The pitcher and the Mets failed to reach an agreement by the August deadline because the Mets had concerns over the health of his right arm. Rocker’s agent, Scott Boras, said Rocker had “non-pitching-related minor surgery” on his right arm.