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#pounditTuesday, December 6, 2022

Kumar Rocker selected shockingly high in MLB Draft

Kumar Rocker in a hat

Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker is greeted by fans as the baseball team heads toTD Ameritrade Park for their game against Michigan in the 2019 NCAA Men’s College World Series Finals at Tuesday, June 25, 2019, in Omaha, Neb. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV / Tennessean.com

Kumar Rocker was a big story in the 2021 MLB Draft after initially falling unexpectedly down the board, then ultimately not signing with the New York Mets. In the 2022 draft, he once again found himself in the middle of the story, though with a very surprising twist.

Rocker was selected No. 3 overall by the Texas Rangers in the first round of Sunday’s draft. That is seven picks higher than he went last year, when he was chosen at No. 10 by the Mets.

The pick was mostly stunning by how high it was. MLB.com’s final mock drafts from experts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo had Rocker going in the middle of the first round at best, and Callis even suggested that Rocker was not guaranteed to go in the first round. Based on pre-draft wisdom, even going in the top ten would have been a surprise.

Rocker was regarded as a potential No. 1 pick a few years ago after starring at Vanderbilt. He ultimately fell to No. 10 in 2021 due to what some teams viewed as excessive financial demands. The Mets were undeterred, but their deal with Rocker ultimately fell apart due to the team’s concerns over his elbow. That left Rocker eligible to return to the draft pool this year.

Rocker bet on himself by refusing to lower his demands in light of the Mets’ concerns, and that bet clearly worked out for him. The Rangers are taking a huge risk, but it could pay off for them if the former Vanderbilt star is able to stay healthy.

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