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2021 MLB Draft 1st Round Primer: Current Players

Unless you’re the most passive Vanderbilt fan in existence, you already know who I’m going to profile here. *Hint: The picture gives it away.

Syndication: The Tennessean USA TODAY Network via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Which Current Players Could Hear Their Names Called in the First Round?

#80 Jr. RHP Kumar “White Castle/K-Rock/RagnaRöcker” Rocker

2021 Stats: 14-4, 2.73 ERA, 13.20 K/9, 2.88 BB/9

Kumar Rocker would likely have heard his name in the 2018 First Round had he not told teams his commitment to Vanderbilt was firm. We know he passed up a multi-million dollar signing bonus, and later on, learned that his mom, Lalitha was one of the main drivers behind this decision. When we build the statue of Kumar, Lalitha should be standing right next to him (and his father, Tracy, should be sitting behind them stoically/unemotionally eating snacks, as is his wont).

*Note: I love this family so much.

Do I really need to sell you on Mr. June getting picked in the first round? He threw a 19K no hitter as a Freshman in the Super Regionals against Duke. He was immediately the best pitcher on the team once he stepped foot on campus, was the 2019 CWS Most Outstanding Player, and it is only the otherworldly stuff of Jack Leiter this year that has put in doubt who was the best pitcher in college baseball. He’s got a Championship Ring (2019), willed the team to the 2021 CWS Finals, and only a global pandemic which cancelled the sport before conference play kept him from going to Omaha in each season of his Vanderbilt career. Come on. You know Kumar, Jack Leiter, and an MVP bat in Austin Martin gets us to Omaha. I’m not saying we definitely repeat in 2020, but SCREW IT, YES I AM, CON SARN IT!

Simply put, he’s had the greatest career of any athlete to ever come to Vanderbilt, and it would have looked even stronger had the 2020 season existed past March.

He’s got a high 90s heater, a bowel-emptying slider, and he’s working on a passable cutter and change.

Think you can hit his slider? Here’s what it looks like from a batter’s POV:

Dear God.

Here’s a quick interview with the Pitching Ninja:

...and Kumar talking about his pitch grips:

Oh, and just like Jack Leiter’s story below, coming to Vanderbilt definitely made Kumar Rocker money, as he’s looking at a $5 million+ signing bonus.

Just for fun, let’s watch that Duke no-no again:

Range: Top 10. Top 250 Ranking: #6. Current Mock Draft: #7 to the Kansas City Royals.

Chance He Signs With The Team Who Drafts Him: 99.99%.

#22 So. RHP Jack “Leits Out” Leiter

2021 Stats: 11-4, 2.13 ERA, 14.65 K/9, 3.68 BB/9

Like Kumar, Jack would definitely have heard his name in the 2019 First Round had he not told teams to take his name off their boards, as he was going to Vanderbilt. In fact, we know he turned down offers of up to $4 million dollars, which, you know... is not something I can even imagine doing.

Oh, and it was actually the right decision to come to Vanderbilt from a purely economic standpoint, as he’s looking to get about double that based on projected slot value alone.

Speaking of money and things I can’t imagine doing... how much would I have to pay you to get in the batter’s box against this?

That head had a family.

Here’s the longer interview with the Pitching Ninja (in case you have 30 mins to kill):

In 2020 Jack looked special. In 2021, Jack looked otherworldly, as he learned how to make a 98mph 4 seam fastball act like a Greg Maddux Special, and come back with arm side run to clip the inside corner against lefties. I don’t care what level that’s at, that is quite literally an unhittable pitch. The fact that the Pittsburgh Pirates, if the intel is correct, are going to pass on both Jack and Kumar at #1 in favor of a high school SS is... well... that SS damn well better turn into ARod.

If not for home runs, Jack would simply never allow any hits. Seriously. Of the 48 hits Jack allowed in 2021, 14 of them were dingers. It really was your only chance against him—look fastball and swing as hard as you can. Seriously, he only gave up 3 2Bs on the year. He surrendered no 3Bs. You were either blooping it or hitting it loud and long. There was no other option.

Of course, some games, he decided not to allow any hits at all. Watch all 27 outs of his March no-hitter against The South Cackalacky Game Penises and tell me you’re not sprinting to the podium to turn his name in.

*Side note: Can you imagine if Jack had pulled a Christian Little, graduated early, and come to Vandy in 2019? Does that team lose a game?

Range: Top 5. Top 250 Ranking: #2. Current Mock Draft: #2 to the Texas Rangers.

Chance He Signs With The Team Who Drafts Him: 99.99%.