For as poor as things have gone throughout the history of this franchise, Texas hasn’t really picked extremely high in the Draft very often. Since moving to Texas in 1972, the Rangers have picked in the top 5 just eight times total.
Tonight, the Rangers had their ninth opportunity at the best talent and selected famed RHP Jack Leiter out of Vanderbilt University with the second overall selection in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Leiter is, as everyone is aware of by now, the son of two-time All-Star Al Leiter. The 6’1’’ 205 lb right-hander was one of the top prep arms a couple of years back but elected to go to Vanderbilt where he struck out 22 in 15 1⁄3 innings as a freshman in 2020 before the COVID-19 outbreak halted the college season.
Back in 2021 to continue as a top tandem with preseason top Draft prospect Kumar Rocker, Leiter took the Twitter pitcher GIF-watching nation by storm as he tossed a no-hitter in his first ever SEC contest against a then No. 16 ranked South Carolina team on March 20.
Leiter elevated his status to the top college arm during his season where he finished 11-4 with an ERA of 2.13 in 18 starts. Leiter struck out 179 batters (which tied with teammate Rocker for the NCAA top mark) in 110 innings and had a 20 2⁄3 inning no-hit streak during his first month of SEC play.
Jack Leiter - PitchingNinja Interview— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 4, 2021
Don't miss my interview w/ @VandyBoys RHP Jack Leiter!
-Growing up in a baseball family (@AlLeiter22)
You will come away an even bigger Leiter fan!
Here’s what Leiter’s college coach Tim Corbin had to say about Leiter:
“Jack is mature, intentional and predictable in his habits on and off the field…he gets it. Extremely proficient in all student-athlete activities. Although just a second-year player, he operates like someone who has been in the program for 3-4 years. Highly motivated and self-driven. He has a specific plan and he executes it…he leaves nothing on the table. Steady and consistent. There is a high care level for being good, and his habits reflect that.”
And here’s what MLB Pipeline has to say about what he brings to the mound:
Leiter usually works at 90-95 mph and tops out at 97 with his fastball, which plays like an elite pitch because of its riding life and outstanding metrics, such as its induced vertical break. He gets an exceptional amount of swings and misses in the strike zone with his heater. He also has a 12-to-6 curveball in the upper 70s that he can both land for strikes or get hitters to chase, and his feel for spin also translates into a low-80s slider that some evaluators think has more upside than his curve. In high school, Leiter flashed a solid changeup but he has rarely used it in college. He has exhibited spotty control at times but has gotten better with more experience, and the only real question is how he’ll hold up with a full season’s workload because he pitched just 74 1/3 innings between high school and Vanderbilt in 2019-20.
Jack Leiter, 99mph Fastball (home plate view) pic.twitter.com/itZ0zl3Syu— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 8, 2021
With Leiter joining the organization, the Rangers are finished for tonight as MLB will only be running the first round and comp picks this evening before continuing with rounds 2-10 tomorrow afternoon and concluding the Draft with rounds 11-20 on Tuesday.
The Rangers will make their next selection with pick No. 38 in the second round and have then have the second pick in each subsequent round.
Welcome to the Rangers, Jack Leiter!
Here’s to a bright future, and sorry about that Boston.