Jack Leiter will have an unlikely Yankees player cheering him on during MLB debut

2024 Texas Rangers Spring Training
2024 Texas Rangers Spring Training / Bailey Orr/Texas Rangers/GettyImages

It's taken longer than many thought it would, but Jack Leiter is finally going to make his Texas Rangers debut on Thursday.

When the Rangers selected Leiter second overall in the 2021 MLB Draft, many pegged him as a college arm that should move through the minors very quickly and establish himself a big league starter in short order thanks to a fastball/slider combo that looked as good as anybody's in MLB at the time.

Unfortunately, Leiter struggled mightily in his first two seasons in the minor leagues and many began to wonder if he would ever be able to reach his lofty ceiling at all. However, he has looked much better this spring and an injury to Cody Bradford opened up an opportunity in the Rangers' rotation that Leiter is looking to seize against the Tigers.

In a surprise twist, Leiter is going to have an unlikely fan cheering him on from afar as his old high school teammate and now a member of the rival Yankees, Anthony Volpe, is going to watching his debut very closely on New York's off day.

Rangers-Yankees rivalry isn't stopping Anthony Volpe from cheering Jack Leiter on

While Delbarton School in New Jersey may not be known as a pro baseball player factory to the general public, both Leiter and Volpe attended at the same time and grew up together off and on. When asked about Leiter's debut and if he would be watching, Volpe responded with, "We have an off day, so I’ll be watching every pitch."

In an era where baseball fanbases are extremely tribalistic and rivalries between two good teams like the Yankees and Rangers can be toxic, these sorts of stories are a reminder that, to quote the great Sarah Langs, "baseball is the best and should transcend city and state boundaries."

Sure, the competition is ultimately what keeps everyone engaged and entertained in the game of baseball, but it's still nice that Leiter and Volpe have maintained a strong relationship and can still root for one another to succeed even though they are fighting for the same goal.

That said, if/when Leiter faces Volpe for the first time, it is going to be all business and we are going to need Leiter to use that slider to win some bragging rights over the Yankees' shortstop.

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