The last time two pitchers from the same college staff appeared in the top 10 was in 2011, when Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer were at UCLA. Now in 2021 we have a new set of pitchers. Vanderbilt has two hurlers that are likely to be the first two pitchers off the draft board in the next MLB draft in Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter.
Vanderbilt Baseball Pitcher – Kumar Rocker
This pitcher hits 95 MPH with his fastball with ease plus he can ramp it up to 97 if he feels the need. When pitching for his high school in Georgia he was clocked at 99 MPH. His vertical break on the heater is measured at 18. in. add that to his nearly 7 foot extension and a 255 lbs. body . This is a big boy coming at you. His slider has been compared to Max Scherzer. Rocker has better command on his slider most of the time than any other pitches. It has a 4 inch horizontal sweep and comes in with a gyro action. His slider is measured with 2250 RPM. This will make for a usable pitch at the next level but not a devastating one. His change-up isn’t used much to get batters out. With more refinement that can be a deadly pitch in the major leagues.
His size may come a concern in the later part of a big league career. For now, he is a top pitcher.
His Vanderbilt coach had this to say about the 6’5″ hurler:
Head coach Tim Corbin on Rocker: “Low maintenance player … professional. He sees things for what they are. Self-motivated and driven. He has a very “teachable way” about him where if he hears and sees something, he can apply it and adjust quickly. Plays the game for the sake of the team. His motivation is driven by the group and how he can best benefit the team moving forward. He has a mature presence about him, but still has the ability to bring fun to the environment … knows the line.”
Freshman Highlights from Vanderbilt baseball:
- D1Baseball.com Freshman of the Year
Baseball America Freshman of the Year
College World Series Most Outstanding Player
The Tennessean 2019 Sportsperson of the Year
Went 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA at the College World Series
SEC All-Freshman Team
NCAA Nashville Regional All-Tournament Team
Finished third nationally with 12 victories
Set a Vanderbilt College World Series record with 11 strikeouts vs. Michigan
Struck out 19 batters and tossed Vandy’s first no-hitter since 1971 (June 8 vs. Duke)
First pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the super regional history
Eighth pitcher to toss no-hitter in NCAA Tournament
Went 10-1 with a 2.17 ERA in his last 11 starts, striking out 82 in 70.2 innings
Fanned five-plus batters in 14 of his last 15 starts
Sturck out six-plus batters in 11 of his last 14 starts
In four NCAA Tournament starts, went 4-0 with a 0.96 ERA
Boasted a 44-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the NCAA Tournament
Held opponents to three earned runs or fewer in 18 of his last 19 appearances
Did not permit more than two walks in 18 of his 19 appearances
Fanned double-digit batters three times while finishing with 114 on the season
Vanderbilt Baseball Pitcher Jack Leiter
Leiter has been on the major league radar since his junior season in high school in New Jersey. Also, it doesn’t hurt that his father, Al Leiter, was a former major league pitcher that won 162 games in his major league career. Jack is a polished pitcher and he was discussed in the draft last year and rumor surfaced that a $4m bonus was waiting for him but the signability issue arose and Leiter opted to attend Vanderbilt.
Hos dad offered this shortly after the draft:
“My son Jack never wavered,” Leiter said. “He always wanted to go to Vanderbilt. His commitment to Vanderbilt was rock solid. I’m proud how he was so resolute and convicted with his choice and decision-making.
Jack Leiter is a polished pitcher with four true pitches. He ha the appearance of a polished upperclassman.
His fastball isn’t overpowering and usually comes in 91-93 MPH but he has hit higher on the gun at times. This has sink that can rise to the top of the zone. His spin rate is not overly exaggerated. Leiter has better command and stuff than his pitching mate Rocker.
The curve is his out pitch and is used to establish command, His spin rate is not extremely high but his ability to throw this pitch will get plenty of hitters out, even in the majors. The curveball has almost 9 inches of horizontal sweep and comes in at roughly -16” in induced vertical break. It is measured at 74 MPH.
His 82 MPH slider is a great pitch that he can repeat his delivery every time and really is his out pitch. He can hit the edges with this pitch. The change is a pitch that is rarely used but effective when he throws it.
His demeanor and calmness towards his situation is outstanding. His biggest knock is his size at 6’1″ and 195 lbs. is his main concern about durability at the next level. Jack Leiter will be a Top 5-10 pick in the draft.
- About the author– Tom Knuppel has been writing about baseball and sports for a few decades. As an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan he began with the blog CardinalsGM. Tom is a member of the United Cardinals Bloggers and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. He also maintains the History of Cardinals website. More recently he has been busy at KnupSolutions and the primary writer of many sports at KnupSports and adds content at Sports 2.0. Tom is a retired High School English and Speech teacher and has completed over one hundred sports book reviews. He also can be followed on twitter at tknup.
Feel free to contact Tom at [email protected]