Star Son of Eagles Coach Drafted by Hated Baseball Rival

Kumar Rocker

Getty Kumar Rocker is the son of Eagles defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and a top MLB prospect.

The Philadelphia-New York rivalry will get a new chapter on the baseball diamond in the near future. The Mets drafted Kumar Rocker with the 10th overall pick in the Major League Baseball (MLB) draft on Sunday night.

Rocker is the 21-year-old son of Eagles defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, the former Auburn standout who took over for Matt Burke. He briefly touched on Kumar’s journey during a Zoom call in mid-June where he made sure to differentiate his stance as a competitive coach versus proud father. Tracy joked that he tried to get Kumar to play football at first, then saw what an amazing talent he brought to the pitcher’s mound.

“I thought he was a very good football player, I wish he would have played for me,” Rocker told reporters at spring OTAs. “But I mean, he chose the right sport for him and I’m proud of him. He likes ball, I don’t care what kind of ball it is, I had a ball junkie. We’re coming from a family who was always with me in coaching, so he’s a ball junkie.”

Kumar is a certifiable stud who can hit 90-mph regularly on the radar gun while flirting with 100. He was voted the No. 6 prospect in the country (via MLB.com) and No. 8 by CBS Sports who called his trademark slider “one of the best chase pitches in baseball.”

The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder went 14-4 in 2021 with a 2.73 ERA and struck out 179 batters. He went 28-10 in three seasons at Vanderbilt University – 321 strikeouts in 236.2 innings – while earning Most Outstanding Player honors at the 2019 College World Series.

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Phillies Didn’t Have Chance at Rocker

The Philadelphia Phillies held the 13th pick in this year’s draft so there was no chance they were getting Rocker. They took right-handed pitcher Andrew Painter at No. 13, an 18-year-old prep arm with arguably the best changeup in this year’s draft class.

Time will tell which pitcher turns out to be the better MLB player, but the Mets were ecstatic to grab Rocker where they did. There was a time when he had been projected to go as high as No. 1 overall, according to the New York Post.

“Kumar was more of a dream than anything else,” Mets vice president of amateur and international scouting Tommy Tanous said. “We’re still so elated here — happy — that Kumar got to us. We really thought there was very little chance that this would happen, a pitcher of this talent and his portfolio.”


Trying to be a ‘Dang Good Dad’

Tracy Rocker didn’t want to dive too much into what advice he gives to his son. Being a parent always trumps being a coach. However, the former football player did reveal one overarching message he lives by: “What’s your approach every day? On both the good and bad days, how are you going to approach today?”

Kumar played defensive end, tight end, and quarterback at North Oconee High School (Georgia) but ultimately chose baseball. And that was fine by dad (via The Inquirer). “I’m just trying to be a dang good dad and guide him in the right way.”

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