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Texas Rangers Prospect Kumar Rocker to Have Shoulder Ligament Reconstruction Surgery

Texas Rangers Prospect Kumar Rocker to Have Shoulder Ligament Reconstruction Surgery

  • The 23-year-old former Vanderbilt baseball player will reportedly miss the entire season and likely most of 2024.

Texas Rangers pitching prospect Kumar Rocker has a torn ligament in his right elbow and will need an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction colloquially known as Tommy John surgery, ESPN has reported. Rangers general manager Chris Young confirmed the news to the sports entertainment brand and said the former Vanderbilt baseball pitcher had an MRI after his start last week at Single-A Hickory. The surgery probably will be later this week. 

Rocker, 23, the son of a football coach and an Indian American mother, will reportedly miss the entire season and likely most of 2024. He last pitched for advanced Class A Hickory on May 11, lasting 4.2 innings against Bowling Green, according to The Dallas Morning News.

He was originally selected by the Mets as the 10th pick of the 2021 MLB Draft. However, they eventually dripped him after reviewing his medical information and finding a shoulder issue. They rescinded their contract offer and opted not to offer Rocker anything, “instead taking the 11th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft as compensation,” as reported by The Big Lead, a sports news blog. 

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound pitcher had shoulder surgery in September 2021 after which he played for the Troy, New York-based Tri-City ValleyCats of the Independent Frontier League. He was the third overall pick by the Rangers last summer.

At Vanderbilt, he played for the Vanderbilt Commodores for three years and was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player. He appeared in 19 games, and posted a 3.25 ERA in 99.2 innings, allowing 88 hits, walking 21, and striking out 114. His first few appearances in the NCAA were not bad per se, but he really started gaining momentum in his second half, posting a 2.17 ERA in his last 11 starts, striking out 82 in 70.2 innings

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According to ESPN, Rocker, who was born in Montgomery Alabama, moved through seven states as a kid (his father’s coaching career took the family from town to town). The longest stay was seven years in Arkansas; the shortest was 11 months in Oxford, Mississippi. 

He played both football and baseball when he enrolled at North Oconee High School in Bogart, Georgia, but according to his Mets Draft profile, he stopped playing football completely by his junior year of high school. By then, his skill as a pitcher really began shining through. He entered high school with a fastball that touched the high-80s and it continued improving and improving and improving, and by the time he began focusing only on baseball, the pitch sat in the low-to-mid-90s and regularly touched the high-90s. And although Kumar chose baseball, not part of the Rocker family sports legacy, he told ESPN that he draws on the knowledge and inspiration he garnered during a childhood spent on SEC and NFL sidelines and in locker rooms.

(Top photo, courtesy Vanderbilt Athletics)

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