A story of friendship and baseball has been brewing in Nashville, Tennessee.
Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter are the star tandem of the Vanderbilt bullpen, a two-headed monster that have helped each other grow and improve by sharing their similarities and their differences. They will certainly be key to a championship run in 2021.
On and off the mound, Rocker and Leiter’s deep connection as teammates and friends has turned them into an all-time duo during their time at Vandy, a duo worthy of Jordan-Pippen, Salt-n-Pepa, and the two guys from Contra.
In an in-depth interview with ESPN, the two young pitchers discuss their efforts to lead Vanderbilt to a repeat CWS title after 2019’s championship season under Tim Corbin.
Coach Corbin commended the two for finding a way to grow together in their difference a la Young and Montana rather than a Rodgers and Love: "Rock and Leiter don't look alike. They don't pitch alike. They come from two different parts of the country ... But they have so much more in common past all of that. They both share a willingness to work, to be smart and to pursue perfection as part of the team."
Vanderbilt’s pitching coach Scott Brown continued the sentiment, admiring that the two struck up a natural balance to their friendship as a result of the pressure of being the nation’s third-ranked team. "Jack has helped Rock in understanding pitching and how to pitch a little bit more, and be a little bit more deliberate with this stuff,” admitted Brown, describing the give-and-take relationship between the two. “They play catch together all the time, to give feedback to each other. They're fun to watch because it's not just a method of operation that we need to get done today. They actually enjoy playing catch."
Prospects for Rocker and Leiter leading into the MLB draft are high. Both are projected to be top-10 picks, and many hope this is only the beginning of their time together, which will also make for interesting matchups in October.
Rocker concluded the interview with a positive sign for the future of Rocker-Leiter: "I don't know where we'll both be after this summer, I guess no one does … When the phone rings and it's a Major League team, that will be a dream come true for both of us. But we have a lot of business to take care of first for Vanderbilt. It's going to be a lot of fun. I know it is, because whatever happens, we get to do it as teammates."
A true example of iron sharpening iron.