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With the second overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Texas Rangers selected Jack Leiter out of Vanderbilt. Although his career is still young, it looks like he is going to be a problem for opposing batters for years to come— which is not a surprise to those who watched him pitch for the Commodores.
Leiter, the son of two-time All-Star and 19-year MLB veteran pitcher Al Leiter, turned 22 in April. He was assigned to the Class-AA Frisco RoughRiders prior to the season and has pitched 84 innings thus far. During that timeframe, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound future ace has shown flashes of greatness.
His win-loss record is not necessarily where you want it to be and he has had a few outlier starts that did not go his way. However, the former is not entirely his fault and the latter is just part of the process. There is going to be a learning curve between the collegiate and professional levels.
Despite his 3-9 record and 5.25 ERA over 21 games with 20 starts, Leiter can’t stop throwing nasty cheddar. Over the course of his last six starts, he sports a 3.23 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 12 walks in 30.2 innings pitched. That’s more than a strikeout an inning.
Leiter tied a single-game career-high with eight strikeouts in his start last week.
He then followed it up with five strikeouts in five innings on Tuesday night. That brought his season strikeout total to 99, which is 15 more than his total innings pitched.
When Jack Leiter is working, he is working.
As has always been the case, Leiter is all gas, no brakes. He means business when he steps onto the mound and does not slow down for anybody.
Again, there are some things that Leiter will need to figure out. He has only held his opponents to one run or less in eight of his 21 appearances and he has only gone into or past the fifth inning in nine starts.
A large part of the shorter appearances stems from workload management and development. There is no need to burn out his arm. But with that being said, if Leiter is going to make the jump to the next level — likely as soon as next year — he will need to go deeper into games.
On the flip side of things, the former No. 2 pick is living up to the hype in terms of strikeouts and talent and he is not giving up the long ball, which was one of his only weaknesses with the Vandy Boys. Leiter has allowed just nine home runs and continues to mow down opposing lineups.
The rise of Leiter is well underway, and his stock is only going to continue to rise. He is the No. 15-ranked prospect in baseball, but when all is said and done, Jack Leiter is on pace to become one of the best pitchers and biggest names in the sport.