The Vanderbilt University product was a Golden Spikes Award finalist
Arlington, Texas — The Texas Rangers today announced the signing of right-handed pitcher Jack Leiter, the team’s first round selection (second overall) in the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft. Leiter was selected by the Rangers on the evening of Sunday, July 11.
Leiter, 21, has pitched the last two seasons at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. In his sophomore season in 2021, he went 11-4 with a 2.13 ERA (26 ER/110.0 IP) over 18 games/starts, averaging 14.6 strikeouts per 9 innings with a 0.845 WHIP figure while holding opponents to a .129/.242/.250/.492 (48-372) slash line with 179 strikeouts and 45 walks. Leiter’s 179 strikeouts tied teammate Kumar Rocker for NCAA Division I lead this past season, and he also ranked among circuit leaders in innings (2nd), starts (T3rd), strikeouts per 9 innings (4th), and WHIP (7th).
Leiter was the winning pitcher in the Commodores’ only victory in the 2021 College World Series Finals in Omaha, an 8-2 Game 1 win over Mississippi State on June 28 in his last outing of the season (6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R-ER, 3 BB, 8 SO). His win in the Super Regionals on June 12 against East Carolina (7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 10 SO) secured a trip to the College World Series. He produced 20.0 consecutive hitless innings spanning 3 starts from March 20-April 2, including a no-hitter on March 20 vs. South Carolina (9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 16 SO) and 7.0 no-hit innings on March 26 at Missouri.
A finalist for the 2021 Golden Spikes Award, Leiter was selected as Southeastern Conference Newcomer of the Year as well as All-SEC First Team this season. The New Jersey native attended high school at Delbarton School in Morristown, where he was the 2019 New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year as well as an Under Armour All-American. Jack is the son of former MLB All-Star Al Leiter, a left-handed pitcher who saw action in 19 Major League seasons before becoming a TV broadcaster and analyst in his post-playing career.
This year marked just the third time the Rangers have ever picked as high as second overall in the draft, the team’s earliest such pick since 1974. The Rangers have selected a college player with the club’s first overall pick for three straight years, as Leiter follows third baseman Josh Jung (eighth overall in 2019 out of Texas Tech University) and second baseman Justin Foscue (14th overall in 2020 out of Mississippi State University). Leiter was the first pitcher selected by the Rangers with the club’s first overall pick since right-hander Cole Winn was selected 15th overall in 2018.