Rangers Spring Training Update: Jack Leiter, Cody Bradford, Wyatt Langford

The Rangers had a tough weekend up in Arizona, with the bats falling short and the pitchers looking less then desirable through three games.
Texas Rangers Spring Training
Texas Rangers Spring Training / Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/GettyImages

Going into the weekend, the Rangers were looking to stay hot after a dominant performance against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night. Unfortunately, the Rangers were not able to remain hot, as they lost all three of their games throughout the weekend, with the offense pretty dormant through all three contests.

With the Rangers returning from Arizona in less than a week, a handful of players are still looking to make the 25-man roster, while others are still looking to sharpen their game before another season begins.

Pitcher Jack Leiter is one player whose future is still somewhat undetermined. Leiter was the second overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft after a stellar year at Vanderbilt, where he was named Baseball America Freshman of the Year for the 2021 season. Since being drafted by the Rangers, Leiter has had trouble with his control from the mound, and struggled last year at Double-A, finishing with an ERA of 5.06 while going 2-6 at the level.

The Rangers front office is hopeful that Leiter's worst days are behind him, and that he can become the dominant pitcher he was while at Vanderbilt for the Rangers. So far this spring, Leiter has shown a semblance of his college stuff, especially during his appearance on Saturday against the Diamondbacks, where he was pretty close to perfect throughout three innings.

Rangers Spring Training Update: Jack Leiter shines, Cody Bradford struggles

Leiter appeared out of the bullpen on Saturday after Cody Bradford struggled to control the Diamondbacks bats, giving up eight hits and four runs through five innings. Leiter entered the game in the seventh inning and had an immediate challenge of having to face Arizona's top of the order, which included two heavyweights, Ketel Marte and Corbin Caroll. Leiter took care of both of them without much trouble and was able to retire the side. 

Leiter was able to remain dominant for the rest of the game, besides the lone homer he gave up to shortstop Jancarlos Cintron in the ninth, which also happened to be the only hit Leiter would give up during the game. Overall, Leiter's performance on Saturday is a good indication that he is starting to turn things around and could potentially make his major league debut sometime this season. 

One player who did not play up to par this weekend was starter Cody Bradford. Earlier in the week, general manager Chris Young announced that Cody Bradford would be the Rangers' fifth starter going into the season, and that he is confident with the rotation the Rangers have put together to open the season. This weekend, however, Bradford may have given Young some doubts about how confident he should be over the Rangers' makeshift rotation.

The hurler struggled through his appearance against Arizona, who had the majority of their starters in for Saturday's matchup. Bradford was able to have good control from the mound, only giving up two walks throughout five innings, but the Diamondbacks were able to generate hard contact, especially off his changeup, which led to him giving up a plethora of hits and runs throughout his five innings. 

Even though Bradford's performance on Saturday was far from desirable, manager Bruce Bochy is still pleased with how Bradford has performed so far this spring. Bochy told reporters after Saturday's game, "You don't see the big misses that were happening last year. So it was good to see him throw like that. The strikeouts will come."

With Saturday most likely being Bradford's final spring training appearance, he had a pretty solid spring overall. He finished with a 3.94 ERA throughout 16 innings pitched while maintaining good control through spring, only allowing four walks. Hopefully, he can carry his success from the spring over to start the season and help stabilize the Rangers' shallow rotation in the first half of the season.

While some players struggled during the weekend, Wyatt Langford continued to prove to Rangers executives why he should be on the Opening Day roster to start the season. Langford came into the weekend on a high note after hitting a massive grand slam against the Reds on Thursday evening, which happened to be his fifth home run of the spring. 

Langford's success continued over the weekend. After an unplanned day off on Friday due to a rainout, he returned on Saturday and picked up on the offensive side right where he left off. He started his day by getting a stand-up double, which carried down the line in left, allowing Langford to show off his speed, something we haven't seen much of from him this spring due to him frequently hitting the ball out of the park instead. In his final at-bat of the game, he got a single that came on a hard-hit ball down the middle. 

In Sunday's game against the Cubs, Langford was a bit quieter than usual on the offensive side, only picking up one hit in three appearances. That hit happened to be a single to left, which was able to bring Leody Taveras home, giving Langford his 15th RBI of the spring and currently making him first in RBI in the Cactus League.

With spring training nearing an end, to say Langford has had a stellar spring would be an understatement. He has done all he can to prove he is MLB ready, and it is now up toChris Young and company to decide whether the time is now to make Langford a Ranger or give him a little more practice down in the minors.

With less than a week left in Arizona, the Rangers will have to make some tough roster decisions to reduce the roster to 25 men before reuniting in Arlington to begin the season.