Wade Payne/Associated Press
Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker took the baseball world by storm during his freshman campaign in 2019.
The right-handed hurler is the early favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 MLB draft, but he will face competition for the spot from within his team and conference.
Rocker and teammate Jack Leiter have a chance to be the first two selections in 12 months, but Rocker is more of a guarantee to land at the top right now.
The Vanderbilt teammates should be joined by Florida’s Jud Fabian and a few other SEC prospects in the first set of picks.
No decision has been made on the length of the 2021 draft after the 2020 edition was cut down from 40 to five rounds.
2021 MLB Mock Draft
1. Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
2. Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
3. Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
4. Matt McLain, SS, UCLA
5. Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
6. Brady House, RHP/IF, Winder-Barrow HS (Ga.)
7. Mike Vasil, RHP, Virginia
8. Adrian Del Castillo, C, Miami
9. Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida
10. Robby Martin, OF, Florida State
11. Jonathan Cannon, RHP, Georgia
12. Ethan Wilson, OF, South Alabama
13. Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Ole Miss
14. Jack Leftwich, RHP, Florida
15. Luke Leto, SS, Portage Central HS (Mich.)
16. Sal Frelick, SS, Boston College
17. Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (Pa.)
18. Mason Pelio, RHP, Boston College
19. Christian Little, RHP, Christian Brothers College HS (Mo.)
20. Kevin Abel, RHP, Oregon State
21. Ian Moller, C, Wahlert HS (Ia.)
22. Braylon Bishop, OF, Arkansas HS (Ark.)
23. Seth Lonsway, LHP, Ohio State
24. Casey Opitz, C, Arkansas
25. Tyree Reed, OF, American Canyon HS (Calf.)
26. Carson Seymour, RHP, Kansas State
27. Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (Calif.)
28. Mason Erla, RHP, Michigan State
29. Izaac Pacheco, SS, Friendswood HS (Tex.)
30. Andrew Abbott, LHP, Virginia
Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
Wade Payne/Associated Press/Associated Press
Rocker should be one of the most coveted top selections in quite some time.
The right-handed pitcher went 12-5 with 114 strikeouts as a freshman, with a 19-strikeout no-hitter in the super regional against Duke his top performance.
He started 2020 with a 2-1 mark, 28 strikeouts and three earned runs conceded over 15 innings.
Rocker should be Vanderbilt’s ace for the 2021 campaign, and he will have plenty of eyes on him every time he takes the mound.
The highest scout presence could come against Florida, if the Commodores and Gators meet up, since it possesses a strong one-two punch in Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich, both of whom may be first-round picks.
Expect Detroit, Kansas City and Miami to be some of the contenders for the top selection, but there is a chance a surprise team finishes with the MLB’s worst record if a shortened season is agreed to.
Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
Leiter would have been a first-round pick in 2018, but he made it clear to teams that he was honoring his commitment to Vanderbilt.
The New York Yankees took him in the 20th round anyway to try to negotiate a deal, but they were unsuccessful.
As a draft-eligible sophomore, Leiter could follow his teammate off the board if he shines throughout a full season in the SEC.
In four appearances as a freshman, the son of former MLB pitcher Al Leiter went 2-0 and struck out 22 while conceding three earned runs.
With Rocker and Leiter anchoring the pitching staff, Vanderbilt is once again expected to contend for a College World Series crown.
Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
Gary McCullough/Associated Press
Florida’s pitching staff will receive plenty of buzz with Mace and Leftwich returning, but Fabian could be the best prospect on the roster.
The outfielder was on pace for an incredible sophomore campaign before it was cancelled.
In 17 games, Fabian hit five home runs, two off his freshman year total, drove in 13 runs and recorded a 1.010 OPS.
Since Florida is expected to be the preseason No. 1 team and has two terrific arms, a good chunk of scouts should be present at most games.
That combined with the high level of competition in the SEC should benefit Fabian’s draft stock.
If he puts up large totals, the right-handed hitting, left-handed throwing outfielder could be the first collegiate position player off the board.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90
Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference