2019 MLB Draft Preview: Jack Leiter scouting report
The 2019 MLB Draft is less than a week away — the first round kicks off on June 3, 2019 — so its time to start offering capsule looks at players the Texas Rangers could select with their top picks. The Rangers’ first round pick is at #8, their second round pick is at #50, and they have Milwaukee’s competitive balance pick, acquired in the Alex Claudio trade, which is #41.
Leading up to draft day, we will be doing writeups of some of the players who could end up getting selected by the Rangers with one of their first three picks. Today, we are looking at Morristown, New Jersey, high school pitcher Jack Leiter.
Jack Leiter is a 6’1”, 195 lb. righthanded pitcher out of Delbarton High School in Morristown, New Jersey. The son of long-time former major league pitcher Al Leiter, Jack is, as one would expect from the son of a major league pitcher, very polished and advanced for his age. Leiter’s fastball is in the low-90s, with a curve ball that’s viewed as a true out pitch as well as a changeup. Leiter turned 19 in April, so he’s older than most prep players. He’s aksi committed to Vanderbilt, and is thought to be a very tough sign, with Keith Law saying he may be unsignable “at any price.”
Baseball America has Leiter at #22 on their board, praising his curveball, as well as saying that his changeup is one of the best in this year’s draft class. MLB Pipeline has Leiter at #33 on their board, and says he’s like a polished college starter, drawing Mike Leake comparisons due to his size and style. Keith Law has Leiter at #25 on his board, while Fangraphs has Leiter at #34.
Leiter was mocked to the Yankees at #30 in Jonathan Mayo’s MLB Pipeline mock draft earlier this month, but generally speaking, Leiter hasn’t been showing up in the more recent mock drafts, reflecting the concerns about his signability. If he does get taken with an early pick, it will likely be by a team that has multiple picks or that otherwise carves out enough money to go way over slot with him after he’s taken with a sandwich or second round pick.
Leiter isn’t the type of big, athletic, projectable guy we normally associate with Rangers high school selections, but he is somewhat reminiscent of last year’s first rounder Cole Winn — a smaller righthander with multiple pitches who is relatively advanced. Leiter could well end up not getting drafted at all, or be drafted in the very late rounds, due to bonus issues, and he has extra leverage due to the fact that if he does go to Vanderbilt, he can be drafted again in 2021 as a draft-eligible sophomore, due to his age. However, if someone does grab Leiter in the first couple of rounds, it will be a team willing to pay him relatively high first round money, and the Rangers could be in a position to do that.