For many people, being selected in the MLB Draft is a once in a lifetime experience. This one event changes the legacy of the men taken and their families. However, for one highly touted prospect in this year’s class, the draft has become a family tradition. On June 3rd, Jack Leiter looks to become the fourth member of his family to be drafted. Al Leiter, his father, Mark Leiter, his uncle, and Mark Leiter Jr., his cousin, can all stake claim to being selected in the MLB Draft.
Jack Leiter 2019 MLB Draft Profile
Leiter is currently a senior at Delbarton High School in Morristown, NJ, and he has committed to play at Vanderbilt University. He throws right handed and is listed at 6’1 and 195 pounds. He has played on the showcase circuit for team USA, and he participated in this spring’s USA Baseball National High School Invitational. MLB.com currently ranks Leiter as the 30th best prospect in the draft.
So far this season, he has only allowed four earned runs in 33.2 innings pitched, good for a 0.83 ERA. In his varsity career at Delbarton, he has a 0.76 ERA in 92.1 innings pitched with 143 strikeouts and just 33 walks.
Leiter’s family heritage certainly plays into his strengths, and he proves to be more of a polished pitcher than normally seen out of someone his age. His command and overall feel for pitching resemble that of a veteran college starter.
As far as that feel for pitching is concerned, he can throw four pitches, each with their own positive qualities. His fastball comes with some natural sink to it, and he has great command of the pitch, resulting in a grade of 55/80 by scouts.
Leiter has relied more on his curveball this season, but he also throws a slider. He throws both pitches with enough distinction to make them effective. The curveball can be an out pitch with a knee-buckling break, and it also received a 55/80 grade, according to MLB.com
While his changeup is his fourth-best pitch, he has a great feel for it. He does not need to throw changeups too frequently at the high school level, but his feel for the pitch show that he can develop it into an effective pitch as he transitions into a more complete starting pitcher.
One weakness when analyzing Jack Leiter is his velocity. He has the ability to touch 94-95 on occasion although he usually tops out in the 91-92 range. While this is exceptional velocity for a high school pitcher, it grades out to be average at best in a professional setting.
The major cause for concern with Leiter is his size. It is tough to project a player with a small frame such as Leiter’s into MLB. 6’1 is a little short and 195 pounds a little light. This raises questions about his long term durability and endurance.
An obvious comparison for Jack Leiter would be one of his family members, but there is actually an active veteran that he compares favorably too. Mike Leake, currently with the Seattle Mariners, is another right-handed starting pitcher with an undersized frame that is finding ways to consistently get outs in MLB.
Leake, listed at 5’10 and 170 pounds, finds success with a slightly different repertoire than Leiter. That being said, Leake gets the job done with a smaller frame and less velocity on his pitches than Leiter. This shows that someone like Leiter can still find success at the major league level and his superb strengths can trump noted weaknesses.