Where do the Rangers go from here with Leiter?
The mistakes have already been made with Leiter. He should have pitched in the summer of 2021. Some of these issues might have been discovered then and it maybe would have led to a less aggressive assignment to start the 2022 season. That is done and now it appears Texas is aiming for a hard reset. He was removed from the mound on July 7th and completely shut down. He is a CPU that is in the repair shop and being broken down before being reassembled.
Texas still does believe in Leiter and his potential. If they did not they would have been looking to trade him at the deadline. He is still here in the Texas Rangers organization. This is what Chris Young had to say to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News about this "mechanical adjustment" that Leiter has been working on since the middle of July.
"When we did this, we said we didn’t care how long it took, whether it was three weeks or three months. We did not want to put him in a position where he took two steps forward and then went backwards again. We want to put him in a position to succeed."- Chris Young
The committment from the front office is clearly still there for Jack Leiter. Here are three things that Texas should do to turn that commitment into noticeable results for Jack Leiter.
3 Steps Texas needs to take to help fix Jack Leiter
First, reduce the amount of advice he is given from people outside the Texas Rangers organization. In Leiter's time since being drafted he has been hearing from Texas Rangers' minor league coaches and player development staff, his dad, a former major leaguer Al Leiter, and in the offseason Vanderbilt coaches and alumni. Texas is the one paying him and he needs to be hearing primarily from Texas Rangers staff because the only way this hard reset works is if he has a clear mind and can take in what Texas is telling him and be able to apply it on the mound.
Second, do not send Leiter directly back to Frisco. Really, I would just shut him down for the rest of the season. I would send him to Arizona to pitch in the Arizona Fall League. Next season, I would then have him start the season at Hickory. It would be good to see him build some confidence in Hickory and then be promoted to Frisco and then continue working his way up to potentially Round Rock by the end of the 2024 season.
Third, I would not extend him a non-roster invite to major league spring training. This may sound like a small thing, but he has been in camp the last two years with Texas before being sent down mid-way through camp. Leiter needs to report with the rest of the minor leaguers and spend the entire camp on the back fields away from the pressure that comes with pitching in a major league spring training game.
The Texas Rangers and Jack Leiter have one shot to get this reset done right. They have to make sure that when he is brought back that the mechanical issues he was having are fixed. They also have to make sure that mentally he is ready to go out there and compete. If Texas does get this right and Leiter is able to turn it around they could be inserting Leiter into the rotation in 2025 with a fully healthy Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, and Dane Dunning.
The Leiter computer when reassembled will hopefully have an updated operating system. A system that will give him a better chance at excelling in professional baseball. Just like with everything only time will tell whether this hard reset works and for how long. Hopefully Leiter can get back to being the apex predator he was at Vanderbilt back in 2021.