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Potential Red Sox draft pick a mixed bag in final college start originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

If you’re a Red Sox fan hoping Boston lands an ace in the 2021 MLB Draft, you had good reason to tune into the College World Series on Monday night.

Vanderbilt ace Jack Leiter started for the Commodores in Game 1 of their championship final matchup with Mississippi State. The Red Sox have the No. 4 overall pick in July 11 draft, and some experts project them selecting Leiter, a dynamic right-hander who’s the son of two-time All-Star pitcher Al Leiter.

MLB Mock Draft roundup: Leiter among potential fits for Sox at No. 4

Since the championship final is a best-of-three series, Monday likely was Leiter’s final college start. The 21-year-old showcased his elite arsenal of pitches, striking out eight batters over six innings with a mid-90s fastball and a sharp breaking ball.

But Leiter also showed signs of mortality, allowing a home run in the first inning while walking three and hitting a batter.

Here was Leiter’s final stat line for the night:

6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 8 Ks, 107 pitches

That’s a pretty impressive outing considering Leiter threw 123 pitches over eight innings in his last outing (June 21), and his effort was more than enough in an 8-2 Vanderbilt win.

But in allowing two runs over six innings, Leiter actually raised his ERA on the season from 2.08 to 2.13. In fact, he hadn’t allowed more than one run in a game since May 28 prior to Monday’s outing.

Here’s Leiter’s final stat line for the season:

11-4 record, 2.13 ERA, 110 IP, 179 K, 45 BB

Not too shabby.

The Red Sox could use an elite arm like Leiter in their farm system, but he’s not the only Vanderbilt pitcher who could be on their radar. Right-hander Kumar Rocker is a potential top-five pick as well and is slated to start Tuesday night for the Commodores in the potential College World Series clincher.

“(Leiter’s) fastball plays a tick better, and I think he has a chance to have multiple swing-and-miss breakers with some tweaks,” an MLB scout told CBS Sports when asked to compare the two Vanderbilt aces. “Whereas Rocker, whose present breaking ball is better than either of Leiter’s, will likely only have one option at his disposal.”