Kumar Rocker Selected by Mets with No. 10 Overall Pick in 2021 MLB Draft

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJuly 12, 2021

Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker throws against Mississippi State in an NCAA college baseball game Friday, April 23, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Vanderbilt star Kumar Rocker will begin his professional career with the New York Mets after being selected No. 10 overall in the 2021 MLB draft. 

Rocker and Jack Leiter were arguably the most-hyped pair of teammates in college baseball history. The former put himself on the map as a freshman during the 2019 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship when he tossed a no-hitter with 19 strikeouts in the Commodores' 3-0 win over Duke in the super regionals. 

That same year in the College World Series, the 21-year-old allowed one run with 11 strikeouts in a Game 2 win over Michigan. The right-hander was named Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series after helping Vanderbilt win the national title. 

Coming into this season, Rocker was widely regarded as the best college player in the draft. He did deal with some struggles along the way that led to other players, including Leiter, surpassing him in the prospect rankings. 

MLB.com ranked Rocker as the third-best draft-eligible player, behind Leiter and Texas high school shortstop Jordan Lawlar: 

"He usually operates at 93-96 mph with his heater, which can reach 99 and features some run and sink but also can get flat at times, though his velocity sat in the low 90s for three weeks early in the season. He notched all 19 of his whiffs in his no-hitter with his slider, a mid-80s beast with power and depth that grades as plus-plus at its best."

Keith Law of The Athletic shared Rocker's stat line from a May 7 start against Illinois-Chicago:

keithlaw @keithlaw

I was at @VandyBoys tonight to see Kumar Rocker, and it was ... like nothing I've seen before, really. https://t.co/ZWnd9jmeuX

Law also noted in early April that there was "a lot of concern" at the time about Rocker's stuff because his fastball velocity was "more at 89 to 90 mph the past two outings than his customary 94-96."

Despite some of those issues, Rocker continued to be a dominant starter in the best conference in the country. He went 14-4 with a 2.73 ERA with 75 hits allowed, 39 walks and 179 strikeouts in 122 innings.

Mets owner Steve Cohen signaled the start of a new era with the acquisition of Francisco Lindor, who subsequently signed a 10-year, $341 million contract. Perhaps Rocker can emerge as one of the faces of the franchise as New York continues moving toward a brighter future.