Jack Leiter

From BR Bullpen

Jack Thomas Leiter

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Jack Leiter was the second pick of the 2021 amateur draft, going to the Texas Rangers. He had been one of a small group of players under consideration to be drafted first overall after an outstanding season at Vanderbilt University that had seen him pitch in the 2021 College World Series alongside fellow top-ten pick Kumar Rocker. As a sophomore, he went 11-4, 2.13 with a whopping 179 strikeouts in 110 innings. He really put himself in the limelight when he threw a 16-strikeout no-hitter against the University of South Carolina on March 20th, that started a streak of 20 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing a hit. He had already been drafted in the 2019 amateur draft, in the 20th round, by the New York Yankees, but decided to honor his commitment to go to college. He had been a high school teammate of Anthony Volpe, who was also drafted by the Yankees that year, but in the first round.

One of the reasons Leiter had such a high profile as a college player are his bloodlines. His father, Al Leiter, pitched 19 years in the majors; his uncle Mark Leiter was also a successful major league pitcher, while his cousin, Mark Leiter Jr., also made it to The Show. Another uncle, Kurt Leiter, pitched in the minors.

Given his heavy usage during his final college season, the Rangers decided after signing him in July to delay his professional debut until 2022. In the meantime, he continued working out at Vanderbilt's pitching lab while furthering work towards earning his college degree. His first game as a professional came on April 9th for the Frisco Rough Riders of the AA Texas League. He was named to the American League team for the 2022 Futures Game even if his numbers that season were a bit of a disappointment: a 3-10 record coupled with an ERA of 5.54 in 23 games. He repeated the level in 2023, with 19 starts at Frisco and one more in AAA for the Round Rock Express. He went 2-6, 5.40, with 114 strikeouts in 85 innings. In spite of the underwhelming results thus far, prospect watchers were still bullish on his future, listing him at #5 among the Rangers' prospects. He completed his undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt in the 2023-2024 off-season, as he had committed to do.

He started the 2024 season at Round Rock and had appeared in 3 games, including 2 as a starter, going 1-1, 3.77, when he got the call to Texas. When he made his debut on April 18th, it made his father and uncle Al and Mark the first MLB brothers to each have a son who made it to The Show. In his debut, he started against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park and gave up 7 runs in 3 2/3 innings, although three of those runs scored after Leody Taveras dropped what appeared to be an eminently catchable ball in center field with two outs in the 4th. He ended up with a no-decision as Texas won the game, 9-7. He struck out the first batter he faced that day, fellow former top draft pick Riley Greene.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Steve Kornacki: "Leiter's 'surreal' MLB debut a 'special day from start to finish'", mlb.com, April 18, 2024. [1]
  • Kennedi Landry: "Rangers take Vandy RHP Leiter No. 2 overall", mlb.com, July 11, 2021. [2]
  • Kennedi Landry: "'It's all about baseball': Leiter ready for debut", mlb.com, January 10, 2022. [3]
  • Kennedi Landry: "First taste of pro ball hasn't hit top prospect Leiter yet", mlb.com, February 22, 2022. [4]
  • Kennedi Landry: "After completing his degree, Leiter has a bigger goal in '24", mlb.com, February 15, 2024. [5]
  • Brian Murphy: "Why Jack Leiter's first MLB pitch will be historic", mlb.com, April 18, 2024. [6]
  • Stephanie Sheehan: "'Long time coming': Leiter strikes out 7 in pro debut", mlb.com, April 10, 2022. [7]

Related Sites[edit]