Jack Leiter's 2024 debut was everything Rangers fans asked for

Mar 8, 2024; Surprise, Arizona, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jack Leiter (71) pitches against
Mar 8, 2024; Surprise, Arizona, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jack Leiter (71) pitches against / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Some Rangers fans weren't happy when Jack Leiter was sent down to the Round Rock Express after his final spring training appearance. He had already showed up until that point that he improved his command, which was an issue last season for him. But it didn't matter. Leiter didn't make the team's Opening Day roster.

But the tides could be turning for Leiter making his MLB debut. The Round Rock Express piggybacked him behind Michael Lorenzen this past Saturday, and he looked like the pitcher the Rangers were hoping he would develop into.

Jack Leiter's Triple-A Debut: Rangers likely impressed with prospect's performance

Leiter pitched five innings of relief against the Sugar Land Space Cowboys. He only allowed two earned runs while striking out nine hitters and not allowing a walk. Leiter retired the first 13 batters before he allowed a hit. Once he got settled in, fans at Dell Diamond could tell he was in the zone. Batters were whiffing at his fastball and changeups over the plate.

The one thing holding him back from playing in Triple-A last season was his command. While pitching with the Frisco RoughRiders last season, Leiter was trying to force pitches, and his command was poor. On July 15, 2023, the Rangers transferred him to the development list to work on his command, and it appears that decision paid off.

Jack Leiter's Triple-A Debut: What are the next steps for Rangers prospect?

The next step for Leiter is to continue pitching with the Express. Lorenzen should be joining the Rangers shortly, and Leiter will have more opportunities to pitch once that happens. If Leiter continues to pitch like he did Saturday night, the Rangers might promote him to the major leagues until Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom are back.

There's little chance Rangers would keep him on the Major League roster once those two return (unless he is moved to a bullpen role or impresses enough to steal a starting job from someone). From the looks of things now, Leiter might be closer to cracking the Rangers roster. Who knows, we might see him get called up if there is an injury to another pitcher. Leiter's future is brighter with the Rangers organization than it looked last season, but we'll have to wait and see how it unfolds in 2024.