Not often do two college players on the same team have a chance at becoming the number one overall pick in the MLB draft. Even less often, those two players pitch in the same starting rotation.
In 2021, that may just be the case. It’s no secret that Vanderbilt University has two studs in their rotation. First is Kumar Rocker, who in 2019 as a freshman, pitched a legendary 19 strikeout no-hitter. The now junior has been considered the consensus future number one overall pick for a while now. That may change though because of his teammate, Jack Leiter.
The son of former major league starting pitcher Al Leiter has not disappointed. Jack, who is a sophomore at Vanderbilt, also has the stuff to become the number one overall pick.
So far this season, both pitchers have made two starts. Rocker has pitched nine scoreless innings in two wins. He has compiled 14 strikeouts and six walks while allowing just four hits. Leiter has pitched 10 scoreless innings in two wins. He has struck out 15 and walked four. Like Rocker, he too has allowed just four hits. At this point, the stats don’t tell us much. Both pitchers are dominating against subpar competition.
Here’s a look at some dirty Rocker pitches.
Kumar Rocker, Bowel-Locking Slider...and Pitching with pic.twitter.com/2e8l6LUbjQ— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 28, 2021
Kumar Rocker, K'ing the Side.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 28, 2021
And ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/LnOD8NBUIB
Now let’s see some of Leiter’s disgusting pitches.
Jack Leiter, Up/In Fastball & Curveball, Individual Pitches + Overlay. pic.twitter.com/6zJyRjFdxY— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 1, 2021
A couple more Leiter pic.twitter.com/HcDTwUQe1r— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 28, 2021
Shoutout as always to @PitchingNinja on Twitter for providing these highlights. If you look at his timeline, there’s even more filth from these two.
As far as pitch repertoire goes, Rocker throws an easy mid-to-upper 90s heater, a slider that falls off of the table, and a changeup. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Rocker is a tank, there’s no other way to put it. His body type projects longevity and he may be the safer pick because of that.
Leiter’s pitches include a fastball that sits in the upper-90s while occasionally touching 100. His curveball and slider both have insane movement. He also mixes in the occasional changeup. Unlike Rocker, Leiter is a bit smaller standing at 6-foot-nothing and weighing 195 pounds.
If I’m the Pittsburgh Pirates, I wouldn’t yet be close to deciding on which of these pitchers to choose in the draft. I’m not the Pirates though. So I will. As of right now, I’m leaning towards Leiter. I think his stuff is nastier. He throws faster. His breaking pitches are sharper. I also think his ceiling is higher. Being that he is already consistently sitting in the upper 90s with the fastball is exciting. If he can maintain that velocity throughout his college season, I think he will end up being the number one guy come draft time.
The case for Rocker would be that he is about 95 percent as talented as Leiter while also having a better chance of staying healthy over a 15-year span being that he does have the prototypical pitcher’s body. His mechanics and delivery also seem to be smooth and easy compared to Leiter's fast and explosive delivery.
These rankings could change. The college baseball season is still young. As of right now though, my Rocker-Leiter power rankings are:
- Jack Leiter
- Kumar Rocker
What do you think?