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.
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
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.
Jala Norman gives her take on Black Ace Dave Stewart’s outrage with the Dodgers over the franchise’s handling of pitcher Trevor Bauer, who is accused of choking a woman unconscious and visibly injuring her during sexual encounters.
Stewart, a part of LA’s 1981 World Series squad, is boycotting the 40-year reunion celebration.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Mookie Betts play in person, find comfort in knowing that there is a chance you might at least see the two-time World Series Champion in a grocery store near you.
Last week, the Dodgers star spent time at a Ralph’s grocery store in downtown Los Angeles, where he urged people in the community to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
In addition to voicing his support for vaccination efforts in Southern California, Betts also took the time to thank front-line workers.
In an interview with CBS Los Angeles, Betts stated his motivation for urging people to get vaccines is that he simply wants the world to get back to normal.
For Betts to publicly advocate for vaccine efforts might come as a surprise to some people. Back in March, when vaccines were starting to become available, he originally stated that he wouldn’t comment on whether or not he had been vaccinated. For some, this raised questions on Betts’ stance on the COVID-19 vaccine.
#Dodgers Mookie Betts won't comment when asked whether he has been vaccinated or if he thinks team will reach 85 pct threshold MLB has set for relaxing protocols: "That whole vaccine is a personal decision. I'd like to just leave it in the clubhouse."
Regardless of whether or not Betts himself has or has been vaccinated, no one can debate that disclosing his decision is indeed a personal choice. Nevertheless, Betts’ tune these days, at least for the general public, is that vaccines can be the next step towards the life we knew before the pandemic began in 2020.
So far, as it stands now, 51.1 percent of Los Angeles County residents are fully vaccinated. Of all 50 states, California is currently sitting at number 20 on the list of highest vaccination rates. With such high vaccination rates, Californians have been able to reap the benefits of life with less restrictions. For Dodgers fans, they’ve been able to sit in Dodger Stadium at full capacity since June 15, 2021.
While Betts has openly advocated for people to get vaccinated, he isn’t the first MLBbro to voice his opinion on the COVID-19 vaccine. Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward openly expressed his desire to not get the vaccine due to personal reasons.
Heyward on the COVID-19 vaccine: "I think everybody has to make that decision personally. I can vouch for it and say I got the vaccine. I have bad asthma, allergies. I was in the hospital all the time as a kid. I just thought to myself, I don't want to give another reason why."
Despite Heyward’s stance on getting the vaccine for himself, he cracked down on his opinion that more focus should be put on the safety protocols for the fans. While more MLB teams are allowing full capacity, Heyward noted that fans, unlike players, don’t get tested before coming to games.
Heyward could very well have a point. When tens of thousands of people are packed in a stadium with no restrictions, that could be detrimental to the spread of COVID-19. However, one could say that the words of Heyward are exactly why Betts’ efforts are so impactful. In a world where we are now seeing restrictions lessened, Betts is ensuring that adequate attention is given to the health and safety of fans and other members of his community.
Jala Norman believes that NCAA baseball players — the future MLBbros — can really improve their branding and marketability, while helping to make the game more attractive to youth, by capitalizing on the NCAA’s temporary policy change that allows college athletes in all three divisions to get paid for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL).
If you consider yourself a baseball fan, then you should already be counting down the days until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
If you don’t have the dates saved yet, hurry up and mark your calendars and be prepared to call out of work.
This year’s games are going to be something special.
For the first time since 2008, baseball will be played at the Summer Olympics.
Fortunately for MLBbro Nation, this could mean something huge.
We might only be a few weeks away from watching both Matt Kemp and Edwin Jackson compete on an international level. Get ready.
Both Jackson and Kemp are a part of the 26-man roster that recently secured a berth in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics after defeating Venezuela 4-2 with Jackson on the mound.
Despite the win, and two hitless innings from Jackson, whether or not we see the duo in this year’s Olympic games has yet to be official.
Out of the 26-man roster, only 24 players make the final team. Jackson and Kemp both survived the cut when the qualifying roster went from 28 players to 26.
If you’re wondering why MLBbros like Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are nowhere to be found on the Olympic roster, it’s because there is a major hurdle MLB players face when making an Olympic team.
That hurdle is the actual MLB season, which will be in full force come the Tokyo games. Plus, Major League Baseball does not allow its active big league players to participate.
This all leaves the United States with limited options when compiling a list of baseball players to send abroad during the month of July.
The solution? A team composed of the best minor league players and the best free agent players that the U.S. has to offer. Matt Kemp and Edwin Jackson should be easy additions to the final roster.
During his 14-year major league career, Kemp became a three-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove, and a two-time Silver Slugger award winner.
In October 2020, he elected free agency after a short stint with the Colorado Rockies. Kemp is the most decorated player on the current Olympic roster, and his veteran leadership will be needed if the United States wants to win big in Tokyo.
A former All-Star and World Series champion, Jackson is one of nine African American pitchers to ever have a no-hitter in a Major League Baseball game. Like Kemp, Jackson is a veteran, and his leadership and experience on the mound will be key for the United States.
In a conversation with MLBbro.com’s very own Telly Hughes, Jackson admitted that representing the United States is unique in comparison to the teams he’s played for in the past.
“I’ve put on a lot of different jerseys, but this one here is a little different,” said Jackson.
Team USA is set to announce its finalized roster on or after July 1, 2021.