Who is Kumar Rocker?

June 8th, 2022

Drafted 10th overall by the Mets in 2021, former Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker is one of the most interesting prospects in this year's Draft. Entering 2021, Rocker was the top-ranked Draft prospect, but after some inconsistent results in his final season as a Commodore, he fell down the rankings up until Draft Day. He made national headlines after the Mets opted not to sign him amid injury concerns. Now, he's pitching for the Tri-City ValleyCats of the independent Frontier League and eligible to be drafted once again in 2022. But who exactly is Kumar Rocker? Here’s what to know about MLB Pipeline’s No. 39 Draft prospect:

FAST FACTS
Primary position: RHP
Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 245 lbs.
Bats/throws: Right/right
Birthdate: Nov. 22, 1999 (Age 22 on Draft Day)
College: Vanderbilt
High school: North Oconee (Bogart, Ga.)
Born: Montgomery, Ala.

He was part of one of the best 1-2 punches in NCAA history
Rocker and Commodore teammate Jack Leiter created a two-headed monster that flipped the NCAA upside down between 2020 and 2021. Leiter, the son of former big leaguer Al Leiter who was drafted second overall in 2021, had a 2.08 ERA across two years and held down the Saturday night starter role at Vandy, while Rocker was the ace on Friday nights, pitching to the tune of a 2.73 ERA across three seasons. The two combined for just eight losses during the 2021 season and helped lead Vanderbilt back to the College World Series. In 2021, the two became the first college teammates drafted in the top 10 since Pavin Smith and Adam Haseley in 2017.

He’s a strikeout machine
One of the reasons Rocker has been one of the most anticipated prospects over the past two years is because of his shutdown stuff. In 236 2/3 innings at Vanderbilt, Rocker struck out 321 batters. That’s a career K/9 of 12.2, a figure that would lead MLB all-time by more than a full strikeout! He has one of the best sliders in the class and his fastball has been clocked as high as 99 mph.

He set NCAA Tournament records -- as a freshman
Rocker's debut on the big stage in 2019 was one for the ages. Rocker went 4-0 with a 0.96 ERA in the postseason and became the eighth pitcher to toss a no-hitter in NCAA Tournament history, and the first to do so in a Super Regional. It was Vanderbilt’s first no-hitter since 1971 and he did it with 19 strikeouts against Duke, a number that would be one shy of the MLB record for a single game. He was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player after going 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in Omaha as he helped guide the Commodores to the program's second national championship.

He’s made the Pipeline Top 200 list three times
Coming out of high school in 2018, Rocker was one of the highest ranked prep players in the country. He was the No. 23 prospect overall going into the 2018 Draft and the sixth-highest ranked high school righty. Despite his high ranking, Rocker lasted until the 38th round before the Rockies selected him 1,146th overall due to signability issues as he had a very strong commitment to Vanderbilt. Now, after not being signed in 2021, Rocker enters the Pipeline Top 200 for the third time.

His father is a College Football Hall of Famer
Tracy Rocker had a terrific career as a defensive tackle at Auburn University, becoming the first player in SEC history to win the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award in the same year. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004. Tracy played four years in the NFL for Washington and is currently a defensive line coach with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kumar played football as well, lettering in two years at North Oconee.