Texas Rangers Draft RHP Jack Leiter: Here’s why it was the right move

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texas Rangers selected the highest they have in the MLB draft in over 40 years, yesterday. Faced with the “good problem” of having multiple worthy candidates, the Rangers weighed their options and stayed tight-lipped throughout the process.

At the end of the day, they appeared to select the consensus No. 2 prospect on most draft boards, and won the draft the simplest way possible: by drafting the best player.

The Texas Rangers made the right move, selecting RHP Jack Leiter in the MLB Draft

The Texas Rangers had some options. The rebuilding franchise had local SS prospect Jordan Lawler to choose from, they had early season top candidate, Kumar Rocker, available on their board, and they even had SS Marcelo Mayer sitting there for the taking.

Even though a case could be made for multiple other options at Pick 2, Texas played it smart and selected RHP Jack Leiter.

Texas has a long and embarrassing list of failures at pitcher. Not since C.J. Wilson have they successfully developed a pitching prospect of their own. And before him…Kenny Rogers? Yikes. The Rangers have struck out so badly on their pitching prospects the temptation was likely there to avoid the position altogether and opt for something safer.

Top drafted position players typically produce more WAR on average since they’re everyday players, so a case could be made that going for a position player would be the safer move and the more beneficial move in the long run.

Evan Grant the the DMN pointed out in an article last week that first round shortstops produce 10.7 WAR as pros, while first round pitchers only produce 6.7 WAR. But when comparing first round pitchers from Vandy to first round high school shortstops, we see those numbers flip. The lesson is there’s a lot of factors and nuance to consider and if in doubt, simply select the best player on your board.

That’s what the Rangers did. They didn’t pay attention to their past and just focused on getting the best player possible. So they selected Leiter. Scouts and the national media seem to agree with the pick, as the Rangers are getting rave reviews for their selection.

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He’s that rare high-floor, high ceiling pick that almost feels like a no-brainer after the decision has been made. Leiter finished the 2021 season with a 2.14 ERA. He had 179 strikeouts in 110 innings. He was the top player on the Texas Rangers board before the draft began and after Pittsburgh passed on better players at No. 1 (so they could sign their top pick for less money), the Rangers basically had the top pick in the draft.

They didn’t waver. They stuck to the script and they did the right thing. They selected Jack Leiter.

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Did the Texas Rangers do the right thing by drafting Jack Leiter with their top pick or should they have done something differently?