2021 MLB Draft Profile: Vanderbilt Pitcher Jack Leiter
|Photo Credit: D1Baseball.com|
The Pittsburgh Pirates will be the first team on the clock when the 2021 MLB Draft begins, so they have the entire field of players to chose from. Who might they pick? We may not know for sure, but we will go through some of their options they have. We have already profiled Henry Davis and Kahlil Watson. Today we look at Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Leiter.
Even if you haven't seen Leiter pitch, if your are a baseball fan that last name will sound familiar. Jack is the son of former major leaguer Al Leiter, who pitched for the Florida Marlins, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Mets.
The younger Leiter has a chance to be a good big league ball player in his own right, and has firmly supplanted himself as the top college pitcher in this year's class, ahead of teammate Kumar Rocker.
While Rocker has the more traditional 'look' of a starting pitcher, make no mistake, Leiter has the feel for pitching and stuff to be front of the rotation starter.
Built more like former Vanderbilt pitcher Sonny Gray, Leiter has arguably the best fastball in this year's class. While he can dial it up to 97 MPH, Leiter works a little bit towards the low-to-mid 90s on his heater, but his placement and movement on the pitch is what makes it a double-plus pitch, according to just about every media outlet that does draft coverage.
In a start against Georgia, Leiter produced 16 swing and misses with his fastball, and as a '70' graded pitch, it's easily his go-to pitch.
It’s Jack Leiter Day & P-Live’s @TylerJennings24 is in the building!— Prospects Live (@ProspectsLive) April 17, 2021
Here’s the 16 swinging strikes on Leiter’s FB against Georgia last week.
The 4S has held opponents to a .073/.203/.082 slash w/ 18% SwStr, and just 47 BIPs (8 hits/1 XBH) on 540 pitches #AnchorDown pic.twitter.com/tfq9IBJd5s
Depending where you go, you can get multiple answers as to what Leiter's best breaking pitch is. ProspectsLive.com had a great breakdown of the Vanderbilt pitcher, with them settling on his slider as his next best pitch. They mention the curve as his go-to secondary pitch against lefties, but at the current moment is 'average' but with 'flashes' of 'above average shape'.
MLB.com has his curveball rated as a plus level '60' at the moment, giving Leiter two plus pitches at the current moment. FanGraphs gives his slider the majority as far as his better of the breaking pitches, but also recognizes that they at times blend together and may benefit from eliminating one and focus on his changeup as his third offering.
His off speed pitch, according to ProspectsLive, has been his go-to pitch to generate ground balls, with a 70% GB rate during their evaluation.
The Pirates will be in an interesting position when it comes to Leiter. While it's going to be hard to pass up on a player that could be a front of the rotation starter, they seem set on saving some money with the first pick to load up later on in the draft.
That strategy worked before with the Houston Astros when they signed Carlos Correa to an under the slot deal to save up for Lance McCullers later on.
Leiter doesn't appear to be a player that is going to take that kind of deal, and could be off the board all together for the Pirates altogether if the rumors are true that he is trying to work his way into Boston.
He is the best college pitcher on the board, and with his upside has to be someone that they do their due diligence on.
How do you feel about Leiter? Do you feel like the Pirates should take him with the first overall pick, no matter the cost? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the link above, and follow us on Twitter @SportBlogMurphy.
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