Jack Leiter made his professional debut at Double-A Frisco on Saturday, as he threw three innings and gave up just one run before he was removed from the game.
His debut was highly anticipated, as it was delayed after the Texas Rangers drafted him out of Vanderbilt and made him a centerpiece of their effort to return the Rangers to contention in the American League.
Leiter is considered the organization’s No. 1 prospect by MLB.com, in spite of the fact that Saturday’s game was his first as a pro.
Overall, his first outing could not have gone much better. He was sharp from the start, with a fastball that topped out at 98 miles per hour. He gave up just one hit, walked two and struck out seven, including three strikeouts each in the second and third innings.
Leiter threw 60 pitches, 33 of which were strikes. He didn’t figure in the decision, as the game was tied at 1-1 when he left and reliever Tai Tiedemann took his place in the top of the fourth.
Naturally, Leiter has several firsts for his career. Arkansas’s Cade Marlowe was his first strikeout victim, as he missed a 3-2 offering in the first inning.
Leiter issued his first professional walk to start the second, as Jake Scheiner drew the free pass on five pitches. Leiter escaped his own jam, striking out Joe Rizzo, Connor Hoover and Riley Unroe in order to retire the side.
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In the third, Leiter gave up his first professional hit and run. Matt Scheffler led off with a walk. Leiter then struck out Trent Tingelstad and Jose Caballero before Marlowe hit a line drive to right field.
Marlowe’s hit drove in the run, as Frisco right fielder Sandro Fabian dove and missed the ball, and then stumbled multiple times after getting the ball and trying to throw it into the infield.
Leiter ended the inning by striking out Zach DeLoach for his seventh strikeout.
Leiter, the son of former Major League pitcher Al Leiter, was the No. 2 overall selection in last year’s draft. Leiter did not pitch in the organization in 2021, as he chose to finish up his degree at Vanderbilt. He was also coming off helping the Commodores reach the College World Series, which meant Leiter was pitching well into June.
Leiter went 11–4 last season, with a 2.13 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 110 innings. He was the Baseball America 2021 Freshman of the Year.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard