Yesterday the Philadelphia Phillies promoted right-handed pitcher Mark Leiter, Jr. to the major league roster. The son of former major league pitcher Mark Leiter, Mark Jr. hasn’t received much attention as a prospect despite his family background and a solid performance record. Let’s take a look at what he offers.
Mark Leiter Jr was a starting pitcher for four seasons as the New Jersey Institute of Technology. After posting a 4.94 ERA with a 106/42 K/BB in 95 innings as a senior in 2013, he was drafted by the Phillies in the 22nd round. He was inconsistent in college but had some success, particularly a 20-strikeout game as a senior.
Although usually left off Phillies prospect lists, he’s been steadily productive in pro ball, particularly in 2016 when he posted a 3.39 ERA in 104 innings for Double-A Reading, with a 94/30 K/BB. He had pitched 5.1 innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year before his promotion, allowing one run on five hits and two walks, while fanning 11.
Leiter is a 6-0, 195 pound right-hander born March 13th, 1991. As you would imagine given his relative lack of attention, he doesn’t throw hard, relying mainly on intelligence and his off-speed arsenal for success. His best pitch is likely his curveball but he has a full arsenal including a change-up, slider/cutter, and a splitter. He throws strikes and has maintained high whiff rates at all levels despite the lack of plus fastball velocity.
I don’t see any reason why Leiter can’t be a viable fifth starter or long reliever. His track record is solid, he’s certainly versatile enough, he’s got the bloodlines and was well-trained by his father, and no one has ever doubted his pitching instincts.