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Rangers top prospect Wyatt Langford earns invite to spring training, could get chance to win starting job

Rangers top prospect Wyatt Langford earns invite to spring training, could get chance to win starting job

Former No. 2 draft pick Jack Leiter is among the other invitees

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The Texas Rangers announced on Wednesday that outfielder Wyatt Langford and right-handed pitcher Jack Leiter will be among the internal players receiving invites to spring training when camp opens next month.

Langford, 22, has made a rapid ascent since being drafted No. 4 last summer. In 44 professional games across four levels, he batted .360/.480/.677 with 10 home runs, 19 additional extra-base hits, 12 stolen bases, and more walks than strikeouts. CBS Sports ranked Langford as the No. 4 in all the minors, writing the following:

CBS Sports ranked Langford as the No. 2 player in the draft class last summer, noting that he would’ve been a quality No. 1 pick most years. It’s to be seen how his big-league career pans out, but he validated our belief in him as much as he possibly could have in 44 minor-league games. Langford hit .360/.480/.677 with 10 home runs, 12 stolen bases, and two more walks than strikeouts split across four levels, including a five-game cameo in Triple-A. He has unorthodox swing mechanics — he barely loads his hands and he steps in the bucket — yet scouts have felt confident giving him plus offensive projections even before he took a pro at-bat. Langford also possesses sneaky speed, and there was some thought he would be able to begin his big-league career in center. He’s unlikely to receive that opportunity with the Rangers, though it’s possible he gets the chance to make the team out of camp.

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy has already publicly stated that Langford will have the opportunity to win a spot on the Opening Day roster this spring.

“This Langford kid, I’ve already had the chance [to see him]. He’s special. Every step of the way, he just kept putting up those numbers. He’ll come into spring training. We’re going to stay open-minded,” Bochy said last month. “It’s going to be competitive. He’ll have a chance to make the club. It’s all performance-based. I don’t care how old they are. [General manager Chris Young] doesn’t care. If we think they’re ready, then they’ll be on the team.”

Leiter, meanwhile, was the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft. His time as a professional has not played out as scripted with his stuff and command playing below draft-night expectations. Leiter was supposed to be a quick-moving front-of-the-rotation type. Instead, he’s amassed a 5.37 ERA and a 2.12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 43 professional appearances.

Leiter did make an appearance at the Triple-A level at the end of the year, suggesting that there’s no developmental harm in letting him attend camp. He surrendered three runs on eight hits and two walks over 3 1/3 innings. 

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