Vandy coach gives scoop on Leiter, Rocker

March 23rd, 2021

We can't wait to see Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter dominating on the mound in the Major Leagues someday. Luckily, Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin gave us a preview of what it will be like to watch the pair of young aces on baseball's biggest stage.  

Corbin joined MLB Network's High Heat on Monday to talk about his two stars and offered scouting reports on Rocker and Leiter, who are both ranked among the top prospects for the 2021 Draft. Corbin also threw out some impressive comparisons for the two of them. 

On Leiter, Corbin said the right-hander's big fastball is the key: "I think the fastball is what separates him. You can put a velocity number on it, whether it's 95, 96 [mph]. But you've seen guys in the past, whether it's [Roger] Clemens or [Curt] Schilling, they have a fastball that just jumps up on the hitter -- and his does." 

Clemens and Schilling? That's high praise for the 20-year-old son of longtime big league pitcher Al Leiter, and who is currently ranked the No. 6 overall Draft prospect and just threw a 16-strikeout no-hitter against fellow SEC adversary South Carolina on Saturday.  

In that no-hitter, Corbin noted, Leiter's overpowering fastball was the key -- all 16 strikeouts came on fastballs. But don't think he can only throw heat. 

"He's not just a fastball guy," Corbin said. "This is a guy that can throw a cutter, he throws a changeup, and he throws a breaking ball. He's got a wide assortment of pitches." 

But how about Leiter's teammate Rocker? The 21-year-old righty is just as overpowering -- he struck out 14 himself the day before Leiter's no-hitter -- and he's ranked the No. 1 overall Draft prospect this year.  

"He competes," Corbin said of Rocker. "And I think you could say that about the both of them, but Kumar is a competitor. He's only out there for one reason: to blast the other team. That's all he cares about. He doesn't worry about posturing, or what it looks like." 

Oh, and if you think Corbin's Clemens and Schilling comps for Leiter and his fastball were flattering … just wait until who Rocker reminds him of: Bob Gibson. 

Corbin said he sent Rocker a book on Gibson to read last year, since Rocker's competitive fire reminds him of the Cardinals legend.  

"In a lot of ways, seeing Gibson pitch as a kid, there's a compete similarity with Kumar and Bob," Corbin said. "I'm not gonna compare the two [as pitchers], that wouldn't be fair, but at the same time -- not minimizing Kumar's stuff, because his stuff is very good -- but he's out there competing. He just wants to win for his team, and I think it makes him very unique for a lot of different reasons."