Alex Kielar | June 3rd, 2019
Jack Leiter, RHP (Delbarton High School)
Weight: 195 lbs
2018 Stats: 6-3, 0.64 ERA, 77 SO, 18 BB, 23 Hits, 54.1 IP
2019 Stats: 8-1, 0.54 ERA, 88 SO, 19 BB, 23 Hits, 52.1 IP
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 Curveball: 55 Slider: 50 Changeup: 50 Control: 55
Jack Leiter was born to play baseball, and has a lot to live up to, but will also look to create his own legacy. Leiter is the son of 19-year Major League pitcher and MLB Network Analyst Al Leiter, who had a fairly successful career with the Mets, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Marlins, and is also the nephew of Mark Leiter, who pitched for 11 years in the Majors. To add even more to the baseball pedigree, Jack’s cousin, Mark Leiter Jr., is currently pitching in the Blue Jays farm system, who was drafted in the 22nd round in the 2013 Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. Leiter, with guidance from his father, has grown into a young and hungry ace with a lethal arsenal of a mid-90s fastball, jaw-dropping curveball, and plus slider. With this strong arsenal of pitches, Leiter has been able to completely dominate his competition, putting up a sub-1.00 ERA both his junior and senior seasons. He even put in a dominating outing with 14 strikeouts on May 11 of this season, following his last start of 11 strikeouts. Leiter was a standout this spring in USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational.
Leiter is much more advanced than most Prep hurlers, as he has a strong feel for all his pitches and shows excellent command, having about a 4.5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio during his high school varsity career. Leiter utilizes his fastball often, which he can push to 94-95 mph at times when needed, but mostly sits at 91-92 mph. His fastball plays up and is productive often because of the strong sink he adds to it, also commanding it very well. Along with a solid fastball, he has a knee-buckling curveball which he has utilized more this season. He has a strong command over it which he can use to get batters to chase outside the zone and swing ahead of. His 6’1”, 195 lb frame doesn’t project much but he fills out very well. His talent is very real and likely to convert to the next level, whether that’s college or the Majors.
Leiter doesn’t have many weaknesses in his game, but one major one is his size. With short and small pitchers, there are always questions about their durability and length. He has drawn comparisons to MLB pitcher Mike Leake, who also has a small frame, but has found success in the majors. Chris Sale is another small framed pitcher who has found success, however, he struggles to pitch at a high level for a full season. Pedro Martinez was only 5’11” and was the probably not only the most successful undersized pitcher but one of the most successful pitchers ever for the Boston Red Sox. Something else of “concern” that will take teams away from drafting Leiter, specifically taking a shot at him in the first round, is his strong commitment to Vanderbilt. The money and team would have to be just right for him to consider taking the deal and skipping college. His fastball velocity is also a bit of concern, but his use and strength of other pitches, along with his command, makes it not too major.
Leiter is ahead of his competition in terms of feel to pitch and command, pitching at an already college level, with the help of his father Al. He has a very strong arsenal of pitches, also adding in a solid changeup he has a feel for, even as his fourth-best pitch. His size may be a little small for long-term success, but he can take some strength from his small size predecessors, and should still have a solid career. With a strong commitment to Vanderbilt, anyone drafting him will be taking a flier on him, also with his father wanting him to go to college.
Draft Projection: Pick 34, Diamondbacks (Compensation Pick for A.J. Pollock)
With the Diamondbacks having two first round picks and two compensation picks after the first round, one of these picks could be used for someone like Leiter, who probably won’t sign with such a strong commitment to Vanderbilt. Most teams probably won’t be taking a chance in the first round and a compensation pick is a perfect time to do that. The Diamondbacks could definitely use a solid pitching prospect if he signs, and even if he doesn’t it’s a chance worth taking. I think he would be a great fit in Arizona and would be a solid piece to their rotation for years. I don’t expect him to sign though, but watch out for him in 2021 or 2022 as a potential Top 10 pick with a solid career at Vanderbilt.
Check out our other draft profiles: Andrew Vaughn | Will Wilson | Jackson Rutledge | Hunter Bishop | JJ Bleday | Kameron Misner | Logan Davidson| Seth Johnson | Bobby Witt Jr. | Josh Jung|Adley Rutschman |Daniel Espino|Nick Lodolo|Kody Hoese| Matthew Allan|C.J. Abrams| Riley Greene|Corbin Carroll|Bryson Stott| Shea Langeliers|Brett Baty| Alek Manoah|Braden Shewmake|Brennan Malone
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