Bruce Bochy didn't exactly give Jack Leiter a ringing endorsement after MLB debut

The kid still has to learn, that's all.
Texas Rangers v Detroit Tigers
Texas Rangers v Detroit Tigers / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

Jack Leiter made his MLB debut Thursday and Texas Rangers fans were cautiously optimistic, but were hopeful the former second overall pick could remain with the big league roster and take the next momentous step in his development.

Unfortunately, the right-hander unraveled after his first inning of work. He allowed seven earned runs on eight hits and three walks in just 3.2 innings of work when the afternoon was done. Though the Rangers pulled off the win, there were still plenty of fans bummed out.

The very next day, Leiter was optioned back to Triple-A Round Rock in an abrupt roster move that felt like a gut punch. Perhaps it wasn't all too surprising after hearing manager Bruce Bochy's assessment of Leiter's outing after the game.

Bochy did touch on some positives with Leiter, but starting it off with "he was alright ... he was fine" and ending it with "overall I think Jack was fine" didn't exactly instill any confidence.

Then again, Bochy's job isn't to sugarcoat anything. This is part of being a manager. A glowing assessment after a dud would be disingenuous. Leiter still has time left to grow, and Bochy is more than likely acknowledging that.

Bruce Bochy didn't exactly give Jack Leiter a ringing endorsement after MLB debut

And he probably had a say in Leiter's demotion, too. So he wasn't about to send mixed-messaging to give the kid false hope or have fans believing something they shouldn't.

The truth is, the 23-year-old Leiter has struggled the last two seasons. In Double-A back in 2022, he logged a 5.54 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 92 2/3 innings. Last season, he got bumped to Triple-A for one start despite a similarly troubling 5.07 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 81 2/3 Double-A innings. That's not good, and most other prospects wouldn't see promotions with those kinds of struggles.

Leiter might end up being an exception to the rule because of his prospect status and talent, but that isn't the case right now. On Thursday, he was, at best, "fine" and "alright" ... and that's not the end of the world. It's just another challenge he needs to overcome to get to where he needs to be.

Leiter will be back, and his recent outing shouldn't change anybody's perspective on one of the most promising young talents in the game. Not everybody's development is linear, and Leiter was actually showing signs of turning it around at Triple-A before the Rangers rotation got so thin that they needed to make the call.

If anything, this was a crucial step toward Leiter understanding what it takes to be a regular big-leaguer. But Bochy wasn't ready to tell us something it wasn't, and Rangers fans should appreciate that.