When the Rangers drafted Jack Leiter, there was no Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Jacob deGrom, and, most importantly, no World Championship. 

In July of 2021, Jack Leiter was one of the most highly touted pitching prospects of the last decade after dominating at Vanderbilt. The Rangers selected Leiter as the number two overall pick, and many fans thought he’d be in the big leagues in no time. 

However, that wasn’t the case at all. 

After jumping straight to AA in 2022, Leiter posted a 5.54 ERA in 92.2 innings. For reference, that is nearly two full points lower than his ERA in his last two seasons at Vanderbilt combined. 

2023 wasn’t much better, as Leiter posted a 5.19 ERA across both AA Frisco and AAA Round Rock. 

Following the Rangers’ first World Championship, their rotation was sledding on thin ice due to injuries to Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Tyler Mahle. To open the season, the Rangers were just about one injury away from being forced to find an external solution to jump in and fill a starting role. 

Unfortunately for the Rangers, that injury happened last week when Cody Bradford was placed on the 15-day IL with back soreness. Even with Michael Lorenzen joining the rotation earlier this week, the timing didn’t line up for Texas to not make a move for a starter. 

Enter Jack Leiter, who had struck out 25 batters compared to walking just three in three starts at AAA Round Rock this season.

Leiter was called up earlier this week and will make his Major League Debut on Thursday afternoon when the Rangers take on the Tigers at 12:10 CST from Comerica Park. 

“As a kid, you don’t initially know the amount of work that’s going to go into getting here,” Leiter said. “As a really little kid, I just thought that’s what everybody did. My mom told me that in pre-school, I asked one of my classmates what team his dad played for because I thought everybody played baseball.

“So, for the five-year-old me, it was an expected thing. And then as I got older: a dream, then a goal, and then you start to visualize it. Then, it becomes a reality, and it’s special.”

When Leiter got the call to the show, his first call was to his Dad, who pitched a lavish 19 years in the big leagues. 

“It was a long conversation,” said Jack, “and I was kind of blacked out. He said how proud he was, just reflecting on being a little kid in the backyard and all those special, special memories looking back on working hard from a young age. So, that was a special conversation, for sure.”

Leiter is no stranger to big league clubhouses, but this afternoon, he will examine one in a way that he has never done before. 

“He came in and had a big smile,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said.

“He’s just excited. He’s thankful for this opportunity. So, it’s good to see him. The way he was throwing the ball in Spring Training, I knew he’d be up at some point…He’s ready to help us, and I’m looking forward to watching him.”

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