Class of ’18: No. 15 North Oconee (Watkinsville, Ga.) pitcher Kumar Rocker

Class of ’18: No. 15 North Oconee (Watkinsville, Ga.) pitcher Kumar Rocker

The Class of 18

Class of ’18: No. 15 North Oconee (Watkinsville, Ga.) pitcher Kumar Rocker

USA TODAY High School Sports is publishing a series called “The Class of 18,” highlighting 18 members of the Class of 2018 whom we will be watching in the coming year. The athletes were selected by the USA TODAY HSS staff. 

ATHLETE PROFILE:

Name: Kumar Rocker
Sport: Baseball
Position: Right-handed pitcher
College: Vanderbilt

MORE CLASS OF ’18: See all the athlete profiles here

Kumar Rocker is widely regarded as the No. 1 high school baseball prospect in the country, not just because he can consistently smoke a 98 MPH fastball past a waiting batter smack-dab down the middle of the plate or because he’s got great genes as the son of College Football Hall of Famer Tracy Rocker.

Rocker is the top ranked player in the Perfect Game Top 500 because he approaches the game like an unknown player hungry to leave a lasting impression.

“I just love to compete,” Rocker told USA Today last month at the Tournament of Stars. “I love getting better and I love to work. I’ve been that way ever since I started playing.”

He credits Ron Bianco, the father of Ole Miss head baseball coach Mike Bianco, for creating the ultra-competitor that’s gotten him to this point. Ron coached Rocker when he was just 9 years old with the Oxford Rebels.

“He was a tough, old man,” Rocker recalled. “Practices were harder than the game. The tryout was so tough, but it brought a crazy competitor out of me.”

That competitive edge has served him well this summer.

Last month at the Tournament of Stars, Kumar struck out five batters in four, no-hit innings.

After that, at the Perfect Game WWBA championships, Rocker pitched a five-inning shutout and threw 41 strikes in just 51 pitches. He ended up striking out nine batters.

Kumar said that’s all a credit to the ferocious competitor that drives him.

“It gives you that fire and you just want it,” Kumar said. “You want it bad.”

Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY

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