Former Vanderbilt ace Jack Leiter collected his fair share of milestones with the Commodores, and now, the 21-year-old is celebrating another one.
Leiter, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft, agreed to a $7.922 million deal with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, earning the second-largest bonus for a pitcher in the draft pool era behind Gerrit Cole, who signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates for $8 million in 2011, and the fourth-largest bonus in MLB draft history behind Spencer Torkelson, Adley Rutschman and Cole.
“I think leading up to the draft was where [how much the Rangers wanted me] became most obvious,” Leiter said at his press conference Wednesday. “[Rangers GM Chris Young] basically said, ‘We're taking you…You're the guy and we want you.’
“That, for me and my family, was really special, because some other teams would have liked to negotiate or try to haggle numbers. None of that was involved in the process. It was just like ‘You’re the guy’ and then it was telling me why. It's a special place to be and that was an easy sell. It sort of just became a perfect fit for both sides.”
While Leiter’s Vanderbilt athletics career is officially over, his academic one is not. He plans to return to campus in the fall and continue taking classes while he prepares for the 2022 MLB season.
Young said Leiter won’t pitch in any summer of fall leagues due to his heavy workload at Vanderbilt this season. Leiter threw 110 innings over 18 starts including the regular season, the SEC Tournament, the NCAA Regional, Super Regional and College World Series.
"We'll work together to coordinate every aspect of it, with the idea being that in 2022 we're ready to go,” Young said.
Added Leiter: “Academics have always been really important, and that was something that my family stressed from a young age. [My dad] wants me to graduate…I'll be coordinating with the Rangers personnel in terms of what I'm doing workout-wise and from a throwing side of it. It’s a really good fit.”
In his year plus at Vanderbilt, Leiter was 13-4 with a 2.08 ERA, 201 strikeouts and 53 hits allowed in 125.2 innings pitched. He tied teammate and No. 10 overall pick Kumar Rocker for the NCAA lead in strikeouts (179) this year and he allowed the third-fewest hits per nine innings (3.93).
Leiter was the seventh player in Vanderbilt history to be drafted in the top five of the MLB Draft, and he’s the 11th Commodore under Tim Corbin to be taken in the top 10.
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