Top prospect Leiter anticipating first home start for Rangers tonight

May 14th, 2024

ARLINGTON -- Rangers rookie has been reminded over the past two months that even a top Draft pick with a big league pedigree is not immune to the rigors of bouncing to and from Triple-A as he tries to find a more permanent spot in the Majors.

Most recently, Leiter was with the Rangers for just one day, making a spot start in Oakland on May 8 as the team’s 27th man. After that, it was right back to Triple-A Round Rock. He returned to the club on Monday, prior to the Rangers' 7-0 loss to the Guardians, as he prepares to make his third MLB start on Tuesday against the Guardians. It will be Leiter’s first appearance at Globe Life Field.

“I’m excited to witness it and be a part of it,” Leiter said.

Leiter, the second overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft out of Vanderbilt and Texas' No. 6 prospect, made his big league debut on April 18, then rejoined Round Rock until the start in Oakland. He was roughed up both times out for the Rangers, allowing 11 earned runs in 13 2/3 innings total, for a 12.91 ERA.

“I think every time you get out there there’s experiences that are made that make you better in the long run,” said Leiter, whose father, Al, pitched in 419 MLB games over a 19-year career. “Results-wise, good bad or indifferent, it’s finding the takeaways and moving forward with it.”

Perhaps it will help Leiter when he joins the rotation -- however briefly -- while the Rangers are dealing with injuries to Nathan Eovaldi, Dane Dunning and Cody Bradford. Those three started 17 of the Rangers’ 42 games entering Monday, but manager Bruce Bochy said it’s unlikely any of them could be back by the time Leiter’s next turn would come up next week.

“It’s not easy doing what he’s doing,” Bochy said of Leiter going between Triple-A and the Majors. “Hopefully, this [start] will be even more comfortable and he can finally get in a situation where he’s with us and making consistent starts.”

Despite the two unspectacular spot starts with the Rangers, Leiter has been consistently impressive with Round Rock this season. He has logged a 2.84 ERA in five outings (four starts), striking out 37 in 25 1/3 innings. He wants to execute his slider more effectively at the Major League level, especially with two strikes. But he and Bochy both want him to be himself wherever he’s at.

“It just comes down to trusting that the same pitches that I’m making down in Round Rock are going to have success here and not trying to do more,” Leiter said.