New York: Queens-based New York Mets, the baseball team, drafted Indian-American Kumar Rocker as the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft on Sunday.
Rocker, a 21-year-old and 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher from Vanderbilt University, was one of the most sought-after players in this year’s draft.
With a fastball in the high 90s and a slider in the mid-80s, Rocker was expected to go as high as Number 1.
The New York Post reported earlier this week that the Mets will pay Rocker $6 million as a signing bonus. The recommended signing bonus for the 10th overall pick is $4.74 million. That the Mets are going above and beyond it shows how highly the team rates the pitcher.
In 2019, as a freshman, Rocker was selected as the most outstanding player of the College World Series.
Rocker’s mother, Lalitha, who goes by the name Lu, is an Indian-American instructional designer. Rocker’s parents met in Washington DC when his father, Tracy Rocker, was playing for the Redskins and her mother was a student at the University of Maryland.
In a 2019 interview with The Tennessean, Lu said she taught Kumar to honor both his Indian-American and African-American heritage.
“I told Kumar when he fills out forms, put ‘blindian’ because you’re black Indian,” she had said.
“I want him to be aware of his heritage and for other people to question where his heritage is, and not look at him only as an African-American child.”
Another Indian American pitcher, Rohan Handa, 21, was also selected by the San Francisco Giants team for the 2021 MLB draft, earlier this week.
The Yale junior Handa was the 146th overall player selected. According to the New England Baseball Journal, Handa speaks three languages – Chinese, English, and Hindi- and started a charity to promote child literacy, and was preparing for a career outside of baseball prior to his 2021 performance.