The Texas Rangers announced on Tuesday that Kumar Rocker, one of their top prospects and the No. 3 overall pick from the 2022 draft, will undergo Tommy John surgery due to a torn ligament in his right elbow.
It is a big blow for the Rangers farm system that is supposed to be headlined by Rocker and Jack Leiter as potential front-line starting pitchers.
The two pitchers were teammates at Vanderbilt and went into the 2021 draft as potential No. 1 overall picks for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Instead, the Pirates opted to take catcher Henry Davis with the top pick, while Leiter was selected by the Rangers with No. 2 overall pick.
Rocker ended up getting picked 10th overall that year by the Mets, but never signed with the team and re-entered the 2022 class.
It was there that the Rangers reunited him with Leiter, selecting him third overall.
Both pitchers have had a rocky start to their careers.
Kumar is going to be sidelined for at least a year as he recovers from surgery, and realistically will not make much of a significant impact for the Rangers until at least 2025 when you factor in his recovery and the rest of the development he still needs to do as a prospect.
Leiter, meanwhile, has simply struggled. In 30 career appearances in the minor leagues, he owns a 5.24 ERA and has grappled with control issues.
It just goes to show that no matter how good a pitching prospect looks on paper, there are always significant risks with them—in terms of injuries and development.