If you were following along during the 2021 MLB draft on Sunday night, you might have heard a familiar name pretty early.
Three picks before the Phillies drafted a high school power pitcher, the Mets drafted a right-handed pitcher out of Vanderbilt named Kumar Rocker at No. 10.
Not ringing any bells?
Well, Rocker is the son of Eagles new defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, who was hired as a part of Nick Sirianni’s coaching staff this offseason.
Kumar Rocker, 21, has been considered a top prospect since he helped lead Vanderbilt to the College World Series title as a freshman back in 2019, when he was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player. He was part of a dominant 1-2 punch at Vanderbilt with Jack Leiter, who was the No. 2 overall pick (to the Rangers) in this draft.
“I’m more of a dad. I know everyone’s all excited about that. I’m more of a dad,” Tracy Rocker said about his son during a virtual call with Eagles reporters earlier this offseason. “That’s what he does and I’m proud of him and I’m supportive of him. I’m just trying to be a dang good dad and guide him in the right way. … I kind of keep it out of my world because it’s totally two different sports and they’re very difficult to play.”
Kumar Rocker did play football at a younger age and his dad said he was a good player, but he also thinks his son made the right decision by sticking with baseball.
In his three seasons at Vanderbilt, Kumar Rocker (6-5, 245) had a 28-10 record with a 2.89 ERA and had 321 strikeouts in 236 2/3 innings.
Coming into the draft, MLB.com ranked Rocker as the sixth-best prospect in the class and Baseball America ranked him at fifth. His slotted bonus as the 10th pick is over $4.7 million.
The Eagles hired Tracy Rocker to coach their defensive line this offseason. Rocker previously coached D-line at South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn, with the Titans and some other stops. He was a third-round pick out of Auburn in the 1989 draft and played a couple seasons for the Washington Football Team long before Kumar was born.
Earlier this summer, Rocker said that watching his son play isn’t unlike watching the teams he coaches play or just watching a game in general.
“Hey, I want to win just like everybody else wants to win,” Rocker said. “It’s no different than anything else with your own child. You want them to do well but you also have to realize that it’s not going to always be a perfect situation and it’s up to you to, how are you going to handle it?
“Because I realize in this business, we win, people act a different way. We lose, people act a different way. My biggest thing is, how consistent are you as a person and your approach to business every day? And that’s my selling point as a father and as a coach to anyone in sports. Is what’s your approach every day? How are you going to — on the good and bad days — how are you going to approach the day?”
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