Outside of their rather impressive start to the regular season thus far, the biggest talking point in regards to the Texas Rangers is of course that of the 2021 MLB Draft.
Set to select second overall, the Rangers are going to have quite the decision to make when draft day finally rolls around. Shortstop Jordan Lawler is a potential generational infielder who’s also a Texas native, whereas the duo of Vanderbilt pitchers (Jack Leiter, Kumar Rocker) have “Ace” like ceilings to them.
In a recent mock draft done for MLB.com, MLB Pipeline senior writer Jim Callis had the Rangers landing Leiter with their first-round selection:
Here’s what Callis had to say in regards to Leiter:
"2. Rangers: Jack Leiter, RHP, VanderbiltAfter taking college baseball by storm with a no-hitter in his first Southeastern Conference start and seven no-hit innings in his second, Leiter has surrendered eight homers in the last three weeks as scouts wonder how he’ll hold up under by far the biggest workload he’s ever had."
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Jack Leiter to the Texas Rangers?
While Leiter undoubtedly launched his name towards the top of prospect rankings due to his electric college debut, Callis is absolutely right with his comment in regards to some underlying questions surrounding his recent performances. The young right-hander has already allowed nine home runs in just 11 starts at Vanderbilt this season.
However, Leiter still ticks off pretty much every box imaginable when it comes to what a team looks for in future starting pitching talent. Leiter’s velocity and “stuff” is exceptional, and he appears to have the mental fortitude of someone who should thrive as a starter in the big leagues.
Assuming the Pirates do in fact go Lawler at #1 overall, the decision to target one of the Vandy pitchers makes the most amount of sense for the Texas Rangers come draft time. Pitching is still the Rangers’ top organizational need, and most scouts have Leiter and Rockers pinned as future top-of-the-rotation starters in the MLB.
You could definitely make the argument that Rockers should be the choice at pick 2, but he had some early velocity issues this season which could see his value drop below Leiter’s (hence why Callis had Rockers going 4th overall in this specific mock).