Leiter sees progress in first start since July 7

August 27th, 2023

toed the rubber at Double-A Frisco for the first time in 51 days on Sunday, and for the first time all season, he made it through three innings without walking a single batter.

The No. 5 Rangers prospect per MLB Pipeline has had a roller-coaster season, accumulating a 5.51 ERA prior to his return and landing on the Development List to hone his craft.

In Leiter's first start since July 7, the 2021 second overall pick fanned four batters while allowing one run on  three hits over three frames in Double-A Frisco’s 8-2 win over Midland at Momentum Bank Ballpark

"I've made a lot of progress and [I'm] taking things one day at a time, but this is obviously a step in the right direction and feels good," Leiter said. "It's something to keep building off of and overall, it's just good to be back out there."

Leiter went on the DL twice this year, on June 22 for innings management, he said, and again on July 15, the latter following a couple of starts in which he gave up a combined 14 runs over five innings. Coming into Sunday's game, the right-hander sported a 1.52 WHIP and a 5.94 BB/9.

The second time the Vanderbilt product went on the DL, the Rangers wanted him to make some minor changes to his delivery.

"There's a lot of small things that probably a casual baseball fan would see differences in mechanically and not even really notice," Leiter said. "These small tweaks, the Rangers were seeing those as opportunities to improve upon consistency and breaking balls, the shape and all that."

Some of the improvements included cleaning up the way his lower body rotated during a pitch and adjusting his posture.

"It was something that the Rangers felt like they've seen for a long time, basically since they drafted me," Leiter said. "It wasn't anything new, it was something that they wanted to see play out and it felt like a good time to start working on things."

While the 23-year-old posted a 1.67 ERA with 33 strikeouts in five starts in May, another nagging problem this year has been the long ball.

On Sunday, Leiter seemed to have resolved many of his issues. He didn't give up any walks, although he was tagged for one homer. Over 16 appearances this season, he has posted a 1.52 HR/9 innings.

"This past month, I've taken the time to just really harp on the important things," the Florida native said. "My job as a pitcher is just to execute pitches one at a time, so I'm letting the results take care of themselves."

The Rangers know his talent is there, Leiter just needs to find it consistently, and Sunday’s start was a good step in the right direction.