Probably the biggest prospect Texas Ranger fans are concerned about at the moment is Jack Leiter. This is his third season with the organization and he has had probably one of the roughest seasons that a Rangers pitching prospect has had other than Kumar Rocker.
Leiter was placed on the development list back in July afer just lasting 2/3 of an inning against Midland on July 7th. It was pretty concerning considering the Rangers are hoping he will end up being their next franchise pitcher. The Rangers have struggled to develop pitchers that they have drafted. Usually, they end up going to another team during free agency or the Rangers trade them for a player. Let's take a look at how Leiter did in his return to the mound on Sunday and what it means for his future.
Jack Leiter's return to the mound
After taking some time down in Arizona and in Arlington to work on his mechanics, he returned to the mound against the Midland RockHounds this past Sunday. He looked like a completely different pitcher from the one that we saw at the beginning of the season. He only pitched three innings since he was more than likely on a pitch limit. He only allowed 1 earned run on 3 hits and struck out four batters. That was a massive improvement from the Leiter who couldn't get out of the first inning.
What we saw on Sunday was flashes of the pitcher that the Rangers are hoping he becomes. He just needs to continue working on his command and his ability to pitch with runners on base. When runners are on the bases, Leiter tends to make mistakes.
I think the Rangers made a mistake making his first professional assignment Double-A. Kumar Rocker and Wyatt Langford started out with the Hickory Crawdads and have done well. I think starting Leiter with the RoughRiders got to his head and it's caused his up-and-down development.
If Leiter can continue to work the rest of this season and then has a great Spring Training next year, he will likely get promoted to Round Rock. However, if he continues the up-and-down performances, he will probably be back in Frisco.
I know he's got what it takes to be a big-league pitcher. We all saw what he's capable of when he pitched at Vanderbilt. He's just got to get back being the dominant force he was at Vanderbilt. If Leiter can do that he will be able to take the next step in his development.