Vanderbilt's Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter take top honors from Baseball America
Chris Lee • 8/17/2021 in Baseball
Vandy's pitching duo earns Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, respectively.
Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt athletics.
The pair led the Commodores to a national runner-up finish in this year's College World Series.
Rocker finished the season with a 14-4 record, a 2.73 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 122 innings. He earned Most Outstanding Player of the 2019 College World Series after leading Vanderbilt to a national title that season.
Rocker's remarkable freshman run included a 19-strikeout, complete-game no-hitter against Duke in the Nashville Super Regional.
Leiter went 11-4 with a 2.73 ERA and tied Rocker for the national lead in strikeouts. Leiter was in his second year of college baseball after throwing 15 2/3 innings in 2020, but retained freshman eligibility as the season was shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
BA announced this on Tuesday, stating,"No other player in college baseball this year combined the level of success, premium prospect status and impact as Rocker and Leiter. For those reasons, Rocker is the Baseball America Player of the Year and Leiter is the Freshman of the Year."
The Texas Rangers picked Leiter second overall in the 2021 MLB Draft, signing him for over $7.9 million. The New York Mets took Rocker eight picks later, but were unable to come to terms with him on a contract.
Arkansas pitcher Kevin Kopps won most major national awards ahead of Vanderbilt's duo. Southeastern 14 selected Kopps as the league's best pitcher after the college season concluded.
However, Kopps's tremendous season came out of the blue--he had an 8.18 ERA in 11 innings in 2020--and the "prospect pedigree" part of the equation surely cost the Arkansas right-hander there. Still, Kopps's unbelievable 2021 campaign elevated his prospect stock, and he went 99th overall to San Diego.