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Prospect Report: Kumar Rocker Debuts In The Desert

SURPRISE, Ariz. — The Rangers have had a knack for shocking the world when it comes to their recent draft picks. In 2020, their choice of Evan Carter left the industry thinking they'd reached for a prep talent who wasn't expected to go nearly that high, especially in the context of a five-round draft.

Now, he's their No. 1 prospect and one of the best overall talents in the sport.

Two years later, they took Kumar Rocker, who was a first-round pick of the Mets in 2021 but chose not to sign. Instead, he signed with the Tri-City (N.Y.) ValleyCats of the Frontier League and made five starts. The Rangers saw enough to take him with the third overall pick, and he entered a system with Jack Leiter, his former co-ace at Vanderbilt whom Texas took in the first round of the 2021 draft.

Rocker didn't pitch during the minor league season but is a part of Texas' contingent in the Arizona Fall League. On Wednesday, Rocker made his debut.

The big righthander went one shutout inning, showing powerful stuff but scattered command and control. He walked three and struck out one. The strikeout came on Rocker's signature slider, an 84 mph soul-taker that got Robert Perez Jr. to swing over the top.

In all, Rocker threw 28 pitches but nine for strikes and showed off a delivery with a noticeably lower slot from his college days. His catcher on Wednesday, Cody Freeman, is also a Rangers prospect. It was Freeman's first time catching Rocker.

"I mean, it was his first pro start—he was really good," Freeman said. "He was around the zone a little bit but got it back in there— he's gonna be something special.

Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres: Even after cleaning out their system over and over again in recent years, the Padres have some top-flight talent on their hands. Merrill is making a very early case for the most impressive player in the Fall League. San Diego's 2021 first-rounder missed a good chunk of this season with injuries but is reinforcing the early buzz that surrounded him in spring training. He's got a picturesque swing from the left side that he uses to make lots of loud contact while also staying incredibly disciplined at the plate. On Wednesday, that led to a 2-for-3 night with his first triple of the fall.

Luis Matos, OF, Giants: Matos' 2021 season helped him rocket into the upper echelon not only of San Francisco's system, but also the entire sport as well. He took a step back this year at High-A Eugene and dealt with injuries as well. After a ringing triple on Opening Day on Tuesday, Matos provided an encore on Wednesday with a mammoth home run off of a hanging slider from Mesa reliever Jorge Mercedes (Marlins). The home run was part of a 2-for-4 day with four RBIs.

Ronny Simon, SS, Rays: Simon has been traded twice in his young career. First, he went from the Cubs to the D-backs in a 2020 deal that sent Andrew Chafin to Chicago. Simon moved again in 2021, this time to Tampa Bay for outfielder Jordan Luplow. Simon showed classic spark-plug skills in Mesa's game on Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and scampering around the bases at every chance. He also made a few slick plays at shortstop.

Thad Ward, RHP, Red Sox: Ward was one of the Red Sox's rising young arms before the pandemic but succumbed in 2021 to an elbow injury and had Tommy John surgery that June. He made 13 starts this year from the Rookie-level Florida Complex League to Double-A Portland and made his Fall League debut Wednesday. The 25-year-old pounded the zone with a mixture of two-seamers, sliders and changeups en route to seven strikeouts over 4.2 innings. His only blemish came on a mistake to Cubs prospect Brennen Davis, who crushed a two-run home run, his first of the fall.

ARIWINJordan Lawlar, SS32110.500HR (2), 2 BB (4), CS (1),
ATLWINCal Conley, SS51110.2222B (2),
BALWINReed Trimble, OF12101.000
BALWINHeston Kjerstad, OF50120.400BB (1),
BALWINCesar Prieto, SS51100.2003B (1),
BOSWINNiko Kavadas, 1B21000.0003 BB (3),
BOSWINWilyer Abreu, RF10010.000BB (2),
BOSWINNick Yorke, IF22120.1672 BB (3),
CHCWINBrennen Davis, CF51120.200HR (1),
CHCWINOwen Caissie, OF41120.2502B (1),
CHCWINMatt Mervis, 1B31100.3332B (1), BB (1),
CINWINNoelvi Marte, SS62210.273HR (1),
CINWINRece Hinds, SS32100.2862B (2), 2 BB (2),
CLEWINConnor Kokx, OF41100.250BB (1),
CLEWINAngel Martinez, IF50100.143
COLWINWarming Bernabel, SS50110.200
COLWINGrant Lavigne, 1B51300.6002 2B (2),
COLWINZac Veen, OF42430.7142B (1), HR (1), BB (2), 2 SB (3), CS (1), E (1),
CWSWINAdam Hackenberg, C20010.0002 BB (2),
CWSWINMoises Castillo, SS52320.6002B (1),
CWSWINTerrell Tatum, OF51210.333BB (1), SB (1),
DETWINParker Meadows, CF60100.2732B (1),
DETWINDillon Dingler, C30220.6672 BB (2),
HOUWINScott Schreiber, LF30000.250BB (1),
HOUWINWill Wagner, 2B30100.250BB (1),
HOUWINZach Daniels, LF40000.000
KCWINJohn Rave, OF30100.333BB (1),
LAAWINKyren Paris, SS22000.0003 BB (3),
LADWINAndy Pages, OF50100.200
MILWINZavier Warren, C52330.6002B (1), HR (1),
MINWINAustin Martin, SS41000.000BB (1),
NYYWINJasson Dominguez, CF40100.125
NYYWINTyler Hardman, 1B40000.250
OAKWINZack Gelof, SS40000.143
OAKWINDenzel Clarke, OF31000.000BB (1),
PHIWINJohan Rojas, CF41000.375
PITWINNick Gonzales, 2B50120.200
SDWINNerwilian Cedeno, 3B41100.250
SDWINJackson Merrill, SS32220.3333B (1), BB (2), SB (1), E (1),
SDWINTirso Ornelas, LF40000.000BB (1),
SEAWINRobert Perez, 1B50000.125
SEAWINSpencer Packard, OF22120.500HR (1), 2 BB (2),
SFWINAndy Thomas, C32100.3332 BB (2),
SFWINLuis Matos, OF51240.333HR (1),
SFWINAdrian Sugastey, C10000.000
STLWINMasyn Winn, SS41110.2502 BB (2),
STLWINMike Antico, LF21000.000
TBWINRonny Simon, 2B41210.5002 2B (2), BB (1),
TBWINBlake Hunt, C30100.333BB (1),
TEXWINLuisangel Acuna, SS51120.300HR (1), E (1),
TEXWINCody Freeman, C31200.667BB (1),
TORWINAddison Barger, SS51100.200
TORWINZach Britton, RF31210.667
WASWINBrady Lindsly, C30100.333BB (1),

Texas Rangers 2022 MLB Draft Report Card

Revisiting the Rangers 2022 MLB draft class after the conclusion of the minor league season.

SDWINChris Lincoln, RHP1.0000130.00W (1-0)
TEXWINKumar Rocker, RHP1.0000330.00
ATLWINAustin Smith, RHP1.0100030.00
BOSWINThad Ward, RHP4.24221143.86W (1-0)
BOSWINAaron Perry, RHP1.01333327.00
CINWINChristian Roa, RHP1.05662354.00
CINWINJacob Gozzo, RHP2.0200060.00
COLWINStephen Jones, RHP1.15442427.00
CWSWINSammy Peralta, LHP1.2411055.40
KCWINChristian Chamberlain, LHP1.0000230.00
KCWINJonah Dipoto, RHP1.0211139.00
KCWINWalter Pennington, LHP1.0000030.00
LAAWINIvan Armstrong, RHP1.0000030.00
LADWINHyun-il Choi, RHP1.14223413.50
MIAWINChandler Jozwiak, LHP1.1000140.00
MIAWINJorge Mercedes, RHP1.21223510.80
MILWINAbner Uribe, RHP1.0100030.00Sv (1)
MINWINDenny Bentley, LHP2.0000260.00W (1-0)
NYMWINFranklin Sanchez, RHP1.0000230.00
NYMWINGrant Hartwig, RHP1.0220130.00
NYYWINNelson Alvarez, RHP0.26663281.00
OAKWINMason Miller, RHP1.21332516.20L (0-1)
SEAWINJorge Benitez, LHP1.03220318.00
SFWINHunter Dula, RHP1.1100040.00
STLWINRyan Loutos, RHP2.0000160.00
TBWINAntonio Menendez, RHP1.2011355.40
TBWINEvan Reifert, RHP2.0000060.00
TEXWINDaniel Robert, RHP1.15440427.00L (0-1)
TEXWINNick Starr, RHP1.2110050.00
TEXWINGrant Wolfram, LHP2.0000160.00
TORWINTroy Watson, RHP2.0100160.00
TORWINHunter Gregory, RHP1.24552527.00L (0-1)
WASWINOrlando Ribalta, RHP1.0000130.00
WASWINAmos Willingham, RHP1.0000030.00
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