ARLINGTON, Texas – Kumar Rucker will spend a few more days around the Texas Rangers before going to Arizona, where he is expected to make his organizational debut in the Education League in the fall.
Rocker, ranked No. 3 overall in last month’s draft, was officially introduced by the Rangers on Thursday, more than a week after signing a contract with a $5.2 million bonus.
“Passing through that process is the starting line,” Rucker said. “So, getting out there, being free and being myself, it’s a great step in the right direction.”
Hours after Rocker was introduced on the field, two previous Rangers No. 1 picks made their league debuts.
the left Cole Rajans, the 2016 Texas White Sox top pick, was the starting bowler for the opening game against the Chicago White Sox. Since being chosen, the Rajans have undergone Tommy John’s surgery twice. Bubba Thompson, who was selected by Rangers in the first round in 2017, was called up from Triple-A and was in the ninth squad and plays on the left. Thompson hits 0.303 with 13 Homers, 48 RBIs and 49 steals in 80 Round Rock games.
It was the first time since 1986 that two former first-round draftees by the same club were selected for their MLB debuts in the same match. First baseman Will Clark and second baseman Robbie Thompson made their debut together with the San Francisco Giants in Houston on April 8, 1986.
Roker, the right-handed bowler, was drafted again last month after a year after the New York Mets worried about Maddie and didn’t sign him after his 10th overall pick. Rocker was the only first-round pick in the 2021 draft who did not sign him. After the August deadline, Rucker’s agent, Scott Borras, said that Rucker had undergone “minor non-erecting surgery” on his right arm.
Boras has yet to go into details of that measure on Thursday, but he said it turned out to be a way to answer any kind of questions any team might have while providing some clarity to Rucker.
“I think the point was that Kumar didn’t have the necessary scope,” Boras said. “No doctor told us he needed something. It was really just an assessment of what was out there. I’m definitely glad we did because it revealed everything we had hoped for, that he was able to promote, and that he has a very healthy outlook.”
Rangers have no questions about Rocker’s arm health. The plan to play with him in Arizona this fall, rather than go to a minor league team for the rest of the summer, is what the Rangers do with all their picks.
“With the main class this year, we’re taking this action. I think the Education League is a very fair expectation,” said Rangers general manager Chris Young. “The 2023 season is the most important going forward. That’s what we aim for in terms of preparing all our players.”
Texas had explored Rucker during high school, his time at Vanderbilt University and then earlier this summer. With the Tri-City ValleyCats in the Independent Frontier League, he was 1-0 and earned a 1.35 ERA in five starts with 32 strikes and four walks over the course of 20 rounds.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound rocker was a 28-10 with a 2.89 ERA over 42 games from 2019-21 at Vanderbilt, where his right-wing teammates were Jack Leiter. The Rangers drafted Litter with the second general pick last summer, and he’s performing at Double-A Frisco.
Nor did Leiter play in minors competitions last summer, or in Arizona in the fall. He underwent regulatory guidance last August at the clubhouse in Surprise, Arizona. Rocker spent the fall in Nashville, training at baseball facilities in Vanderbilt while taking classes while working to finish his degree.
Rucker said Leiter was an incredible resource and had nothing but good things to say about the Rangers.
When asked if there was more pressure for being the 3rd overall pick or what he went through last year, Rucker replied, “Definitely the second thing…all the pressure went right. Happy to be No. 3 and happy going forward too.”