Texas Rangers: Jack Leiter is lighting up radar guns ahead of the draft

Jack Leiter has big league potential running through his blood, and a cannon for an arm. 

If the Texas Rangers are looking to go the collegiate pitcher route during this year’s draft, they’ve got a quality option out of Vanderbilt.

The son of former big leaguer Al Leiter was lighting up the radar gun against Wright State early in the collegiate baseball season.

Jack Leiter showed excellent velocity, movement and control of his heater and made the Wright State hitters look silly.

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Now, a couple of things could also be in play here.

The radar gun could have been running a little high or Leiter’s velocity made a huge uptick.

According to Prospects 365, Jack Leiter’s average velocity sat around 92-94 mph during the game, so the gun may have been hot.

Although, Leiter was 19-years old when he first got to Vanderbilt and will turn 21 this April 21st, so there is no doubt that he would have physically matured during those two seasons and could have seen an uptick in his velocity as a result.

Assuming he has gotten his average velocity up, this could make a very polished young pitcher even more attractive to the Texas Rangers this summer.

The Rangers currently sit second overall in this year’s draft, and aside from the Pirates at one, have their pick of the litter.

Many around the league believe that Leiter’s teammate, Kumar Rocker, will go first overall, but if the Pirates deem another player to be more valuable, they could go in another direction.

For the Texas Rangers, pitching should be at the forefront of their minds, and that could begin with Jack Leiter.

Texas Rangers could select Jack Leiter

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Jack Leiter could be a special talent if the Texas Rangers take him at No. 2.

For now, we’ll assume that Rocker will go first, and the Texas Rangers will have their pick of the rest.

If they decide that Jack Leiter is their guy, he comes with a quality track record, high praise and the genetics to have a potentially great big league career.

Beginning with his genetics, his father Al Leiter spent 19 seasons at the games highest level.

The current MLB Network analyst has a career record of 162-132 with a 3.80 ERA, a 1.386 WHIP and accumulated 1,974 strikeouts over 2,391 innings.

His uncle Mark Leiter and cousin Mark Jr. have also seen big league playing time.

Just from the family lineage, Jack Leiter has the makings of a big league ballplayer, but that’s not all he brings to the table.

Leiter had success during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season as a freshman.

The Commodores’ righty appeared in four games, making three starts, going 2-0 while striking out 22.

During his freshman year, opponents only hit .098 off of the 20-year old right-hander over 15.2 innings.

He his heading into his sophomore season for Vanderbilt, and is looking to increase his draft stock before the upcoming draft.

His success has been in large part because of a quality four-pitch mix, most notably his fastball and big overhand hook.

Leiter’s increased fastball velocity could make him more appealing to the Texas Rangers.

His 12-6 curveball has good break to it and Leiter has the ability to manipulate the pitch to give hitters different looks, as it sits in the mid-to-upper 70s.

He also features an up-and-coming slider that sits in the low-80s that could end up being a more promising pitch than his curveball.

He has the ability to throw a quality changeup, but has used it seldomly at the college level.

Comparing Leiter to Rocker, Jack Leiter has better command overall of all of his pitches than Rocker, but Rocker’s size and athleticism are more pronounced and very appealing for big league clubs.

Leiter is listed at 6’1 and 205 pounds on the Vanderbilt roster, but many scouts believe that he is slightly smaller than that.

If the Texas Rangers go the Jack Leiter route, they’ll be hoping for a Sonny Gray-type who has a better feel for his pitches and a deeper repertoire than Gray.

We’ll have to wait and see if Leiter’s velocity is truly as high as it gunned out in his first start this season, but it is nonetheless very encouraging to see increased velocity this early on.

If the velocity does stick, a hard-throwing Jack Leiter could be the next great pitcher to headline the Texas Rangers’ rotation.