MLB Draft Profile: Jack Leiter

MLB Draft Profile: Jack Leiter

by May 22, 2021 4 comments

The Vanderbilt ace is still the top pitcher in the MLB Draft in July. Although he has fallen down a couple of spots on some boards, his talent is undeniable. Jack Leiter has the stuff, pitchability, and pedigree to be an ace at the major league level. What team will take him? Let’s find out.

Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Draft Profiles.

Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt

Height: 6’1″
Weight: 200 lbs.
Age: 21
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
2020: 2-0, 1.72 ERA, 22 Ks in 15.1 IP
2021: 8-2, 2.05 ERA, 119 Ks in 70.1 IP

Scouting Grades

Fastball: 70
Slider: 55
Curveball: 60
Changeup: 55
Control: 50
Overall: 60

Jack Leiter, the son of former major league pitcher Al Leiter, was selected in the 20th round of the MLB draft in 2019 by the New York Yankees. He honored his commitment to Vanderbilt and has been dominant along with fellow ace Kumar Rocker. Basically, a lock to be a top-5 pick, the question is where does he end up.

Strengths

Leiter’s fastball is elite. While he sits at 92-95 mph and can hit 98, he commands the heater well and gets a ton of swings and misses. The induced vertical break on it is what makes it arguably the best pitch in the draft. The fastball seems to explode as it gets to the batter and even rises especially due to Leiter’s lower arm slot. Hitters can’t seem to get on top of it and most of the time just swing right under it even if their timing is on.

The former Commodore also has an exceptional curveball which he can drop in for a strike in any count. Leiter’s curve is a 12-to-6 hammer that he tosses in the high 70s. Not only can he get it over the plate but he can bury it in the dirt with batters flailing over the top. The 20+ mph difference between his fastball and curve, and the fact that Leiter commands both extremely well, makes both of these offerings more effective.

Leiter’s third offering is above average as well and flashes plus. He throws his slider in the low 80s with good sweep. This is another pitch that he can spot with precision and he tunnels it almost exactly with his fastball. The Vandy ace has great mechanics and an easy, repeatable delivery. He gets the most out of his frame and his quiet yet competitive temperament on the mound reminds me of Jacob deGrom.

Weaknesses

The only real knock on Leiter is his size. At 6-foot-1 and barely 200 pounds, teams may worry about him wearing down. He did hit a bump in the road this season and was shut down for a game. He came back strong but will need to build up endurance over the course of a full season to prove he can handle the grind of 162 games.

Pro Comparison: Walker Buehler

This is an easy one. Buehler and Leiter are similarly built and both went to Vanderbilt. Here is what MLB.com had to say about Buehler heading into the 2015 amateur draft…

“Buehler has a deep repertoire featuring four potential solid-or-better big-league pitches and the ability to throw all of them for strikes. His best offering is his 90-96 mph fastball, and while he sometimes gets caught in between his curveball and slider, both can be weapons. His changeup similarly varies from inconsistent to effective.

Buehler could have been a Draft pick in the top two rounds out of a Kentucky high school in 2012 had he been signable away from Vanderbilt. The biggest knock on him is that he’s just 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, but he had been durable prior to this spring. His athleticism and sound delivery should allow him to remain a starter”.

The Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander was selected 24th that year. Leiter has a better fastball and a little more polish.

Draft Projection: Round 1, Pick 2, Texas Rangers

The Rangers have a bunch of young middle infielders in their system including Maximo Acosta and Luisangel Acuna. So while Jordan Lawlor, Marcelo Mayer, and Brady House will likely be here for the taking, Texas goes with the best pitcher in the draft. As long as Leiter can build up his strength to handle a full workload, he could be in the majors by 2023 and leading the Rangers’ rotation with Dane Dunning and Cole Winn.

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Main Image Credit: https://d1baseball.com/analysis/rogers-review-jack-leiter-vanderbilt-highlight-observations-against-lsu/

 

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