Pitcher Jack Leiter of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during media day at Surprise Stadium on February 21, 2023 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
The Texas Rangers have promoted outfielder Wyatt Langford and starting pitcher Jack Leiter to Triple-A Round Rock. According to MLBpipeline.com, Langford is the No. 2 ranked prospect in the organization, and Leiter is the Rangers’ No. 5 ranked prospect.
Langford was the Rangers’ first-round draft pick in 2023, selected fourth overall. He had a three-year collegiate baseball career with the University of Florida, batting .363 with 47 home runs in 134 games. Langford played in a combined 27 games between rookie ball and High-A Hickory before being promoted to Double-A Frisco—the 21-year-old hit .447 with a 1.393 OPS in 11 games. Langford displayed above-average discipline at the plate with Double-A Frisco, striking out four times and drawing 10 walks in 49 plate appearances.
At 225 pounds, Langford can generate power to all parts of the field. He hit a career-high 26 home runs in 2022 with the Florida Gators and has a combined 10 home runs in 38 games across three minor league levels in 2023. Although Langford has risen through the Texas Rangers system quickly, it is unlikely he will be promoted to the Major League club this season.
Major League Baseball scouts evaluate players on a 20-80 grading scale: 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average, and 70-80 is well above average. Langford’s best skill according to Major League Baseball scouts is his power, to which they’ve assigned a 65-grade, while his hitting rates a 60-grade, his running grades 55, and arm and fielding each rate a 50-grade. His overall scouting grade is 60.
Langford’s teammate Jack Leiter was drafted by the Texas Rangers second overall in the 2021 MLB Draft out of Vanderbilt University. Jack is the son of Al Leiter, a former Major League pitcher with the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Florida Marlins.
Similar to Langford, Leiter had an impressive college baseball career. He recorded 179 strikeouts in 110 innings in 2021 and allowed just 3.9 hits per nine innings. The 23-year-old primarily used his 95-plus mph fastball to blow hitters away at Vanderbilt, but has not had the same success with Double-A Frisco the last two seasons. He owns a 5.07 ERA and has allowed 14 home runs in 19 starts this season. Additionally, Leiter has given up 7.4 hits per nine innings.
Although healthy, Leiter was placed on the developmental list by the Rangers in June and July. He continued to face live batters, including Major League players Brad Miller and Austin Hedges, at Globe Life Field in Arlington on August 16. Texas Rangers General Manager Chris Young told the Dallas Morning News placing Leiter on the developmental list was to tweak his pitching mechanics.
“If your swing gets off on timing and direction, you aren’t going to hit the ball as far as you can or as straight as you can,” Young said. “That’s the best comparison I can make. His body wasn’t moving the way it needs to for him to pitch the way he needs to pitch.”
Now off the developmental list, Leiter was on the mound for Double-A Frisco on Saturday. He recorded nine strikeouts across five innings in a 4-3 win against Amarillo.
“Today, the curveball really clicked,” Leiter told Brendan Samson of MLB.com. “That’s been something that I’ve been searching for all pro ball. The slider feels good as well, and the heater has always been my bread and butter.”
Major League Baseball scouts graded Leiter’s fastball and slider as his best pitches, giving him a 60 on each, along with a 50-grade on his curveball and 45-grades on his changeup and control. Scouts have given Leiter an overall grade of 60.
The Round Rock Express (85-58) will play their next game on Tuesday, September 19 against the Tacoma Rainiers (75-69) at 11:05 p.m. ET. The game will be played at Cheney Stadium, home of the Rainiers. All minor league games will be streamed on MiLB.com with a paid subscription.