‘Winning player’: GM Chris Young makes statement with Texas Rangers’ Leiter pick

Texas Rangers general manager Chris Young made himself very clear shortly after his team selected Jack Leiter with the No. 2 overall pick on Sunday night.

There are no concerns over signing the Vanderbilt product.

“We wouldn’t have taken him if we did (have those concerns),” the Rangers GM said, per the Dallas Morning News’ Joseph Hoyt.

Leiter, a right-handed pitcher and the son of longtime big-league hurler Al Leiter, was previously selected as a 20th round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees.

Two years ago, the now 21-year old didn’t choose to sign with the Bronx Bombers — the Rangers in 2021 are not expected to have the same fate, according to Young.

The Texas Rangers’ pipeline gets its boost on the mound

Texas’ farm system can be described as one that is position-player heavy — a lack of top-end hurlers at the top of the system’s rankings, with the exception of Cole Winn.

With the selection of Leiter on Sunday night, that sentiment was forced to be put on the back burner.

Leiter made his college debut on Feb. 20 2020, where he instantly positioned himself as one of most talked about future draftees in the baseball world.

And it didn’t end there — in fact, his label as a potential big-league “ace” followed him throughout the entirety of the 2021 campaign.

The right-handed pitcher finished his latest college season with an 11-4 record, while posting a 2.13 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. Leiter’s Commodores came up short in the final game of the College World Series, after a 9-0 loss to Mississippi State on June 30.

 

Leiter joins the aforementioned Winn as the two pitchers to be selected in the first-round by the Rangers since the 2017 MLB Draft.

The 21-year old’s pitching repertoire is headlined by his fastball — a pitch that sits at 92-95 mph, and has reached as high as 98 mph over the course of his most recent college seasons. Leiter’s slider has been regarded as his next-best pitch by most scouts.

Texas Rangers’ brass ‘confident’ with pick

Leiter will now be known as Young’s first-ever draft selection as the general manager of the Rangers, after he was officially crowned into the position on December 4 2020.

“(Jack Leiter’s) got a general manager who was a major-league pitcher in Chris Young,” said to MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds after the conclusion of the first round. “I think that plays a lot into him being a part of that organization. You know that you’re going to be taken care of, you know they’re going to do things a little bit differently.”

And in the eyes of Young, it appears as though everything went as planned on Sunday night.

“I all along in my heart felt Jack was the right one for the Texas Rangers,” he said per Aria Gerson of the Tennessean. “I see a winning player.”

No matter how the rest of the draft plays out — make no mistake about it — Texas’s pipeline on the mound just got a much needed boost.

“He is going to enhance what we’re doing,” said Young. “He is going to make the players around him better.”

The Rangers are set to make their next draft selection with the 38th overall pick on Monday afternoon.