If you’re a Mets fan, it’s your time to rejoice.
MLBbro All-Star, Taijuan Walker.
And now, Kumar Rocker.
The former college standout and newest MLBbro became the 10th pick in the 2021 MLB draft on Sunday night. If you’ve never heard the name, it’s time to get to know one of the most dominant pitchers in this year’s draft class.
A 6’5 and 245 lbs, one could say that Rocker’s measurements are comparable to those of a football player. This comes as no surprise considering that his father, Tracy, is a retired NFL player. However, despite playing football in high school, Rocker ultimately chose baseball. So far, the decision has paid off.
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeague) July 12, 2021
Coming out of high school, Rocker got drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 38th round of the 2018 MLB Draft. Nevertheless, he decided to play NCAA baseball instead of pursuing his opportunity with the Rockies.
Not only did he play college baseball, but he also played at Vanderbilt, the same program that has made a name for itself as one of the most successful college baseball programs in America. Behind Tim Corbin, the program is famous for developing MLB-level talent, and Rocker is no exception.
Kumar Rocker's college accomplishments:
▪️ College World Series Champion
▪️ College World Series Most Outstanding Player
▪️ No-hitter in 2019
▪️ 2.89 ERA
▪️ 321 K in 236.2 innings
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 12, 2021
During his freshman year at Vanderbilt, Rocker helped carry the Commodores to a College World Series victory. Matter of fact, to say he “helped” might even be an understatement.
When the pressure was on, he delivered. He pitched a 19 strikeout no-hitter against Duke. He then set a College World Series record after throwing 11 strikeouts in a matchup against Michigan. At the end of the tournament, he boasted a 2-0 record with a 1.46 ERA. He was crowned the College World Series Most Outstanding Player.
The accolades kept coming.
That same year he became the Freshman of The Year by both D1Baseball.com and Baseball America, in addition to making the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Then came COVID-19.
Due to Coronavirus restrictions, the NCAA baseball season had been cut short in 2020. The preseason hype was there, but the opportunities weren’t. While he only started 3 games, he did end the season with a 1.80 ERA and a total of 28 strikeouts in 15 innings.
The last time Rocker stepped on a mound, his performance was quite uncharacteristic. After advancing to the 2021 College World Series Final, Rocker was the Game 3 pitcher in a best-of-3 series. It was expected that he would be the hero to clinch the series. The outcome couldn’t have been more anticlimactic.
Mississippi State beat Vanderbilt 9-0. Corbin took Rocker off the mound in the fourth inning. Just like that, a historic college baseball career had ended for Rocker in a heartbreaking fashion.
It has to be noted that black players don’t get the same grace extended to them during hard times the way that white players do. So yes, we do have to address Rocker’s rocky performance.
Matter of fact, if Vanderbilt won the game on another lights-out performance by Rocker, there’s a good chance he’s not even available by the time the Mets make the 10th pick.
However, the acknowledgment isn’t to plant seeds of doubt for Mets fans.
Rocker’s track record speaks for itself. As a Vanderbilt ace who has had the nation’s attention since his days as a high school baseball star, Kumar Rocker is one of the most accomplished and experienced picks in this year’s draft class. It’s safe to say that Mets fans can get excited. This pick looks like it’s gonna pay off.