Former Vanderbilt Commodores baseball star Kumar Rocker, draft-eligible again, had September shoulder surgery, sources say

Former Vanderbilt star Kumar Rocker underwent shoulder surgery in September and received what his agent called “a small circumference” on his right arm, sources familiar with the procedure told ESPN.

Rocker, the 10th overall pick in the 2021 draft, did not sign with the New York Mets after the team denied the condition of his arm. Rocker, now 22 and a draft-eligible again, has steadily climbed teams’ boards over the past month after appearing as a regular in a dominant five-game stint with the independent Frontier League’s Tri-City Valley Cats had hit his fastball 98 miles per hour.

“We have, to a small extent, a very clear understanding of Kumar’s medically documented medical condition that has enabled him to perform at the highest level,” said Scott Boras, Rockers agent.

Rocker’s medical information, including that provided by Dr. Neal ElAttrache were distributed to the teams in the last few days before the July 17 draft, in which he is expected to enter the first round again. In a pitching-themed short draft, Rocker’s combination of pedigree and what he’s displayed at Tri-City could force teams to consider him much sooner than in recent months.

After a stellar performance as a freshman that saw him named Most Outstanding Player during Vanderbilt’s run to a College World Series title, Rocker spent the next two years as the most recognizable name in college baseball. His final season with Vanderbilt in 2021 was characteristically excellent with 179 strikeouts in 122 innings and a 2.73 ERA, but his erratic pace worried teams at the top of the first round.

The Mets were initially delighted he joined them and planned to offer a $6 million signing bonus – $1.26 million more than the 10th Choice slot value. Concerned about his medicine, New York never made an offer. As compensation, the Mets received the 11th pick in this year’s draft. Typically, teams must offer 40% of slot value to collect the comp pick, but the Mets were exempt from that because Rocker didn’t participate in Major League Baseball’s MRT pre-draft program.

The procedure was not considered serious and did not affect Rocker’s rotator cuff or labrum, Boras said. Rocker returned to the Hill earlier in the year in preparation for his June 5 debut with Tri-City. In his five outings, he pitched 20 innings, hit out 32, walked four times, and posted a 1.35 ERA. Rocker’s last game on Friday was his best: five innings, two hits, no runs earned, one walk, seven strikeouts and 44 strikes on 69 pitches against the Empire State Grays, who are 2-39 this season. Former Vanderbilt Commodores baseball star Kumar Rocker, draft-eligible again, had September shoulder surgery, sources say

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