ST. LOUIS -- With standout seasons that, for both players, began at Double-A Springfield, right-hander Luke Weaver and outfielder Harrison Bader have earned recognition as MLBPipeline's organizational picks for Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively.Both played their way into MLBPipeline's midseason Top 100 prospects list and distinguished
ST. LOUIS -- With standout seasons that, for both players, began at Double-A Springfield, right-hander Luke Weaver and outfielder Harrison Bader have earned recognition as MLBPipeline's organizational picks for Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively.
Both played their way into MLBPipeline's midseason Top 100 prospects list and distinguished themselves as among the quickest risers in the Cardinals' system. Weaver's success carried him all the way to the Majors this season, despite never having pitched above the Class A Advanced level heading into 2016.
Before joining the Cardinals' rotation, Weaver, a first-round pick (27th overall) in the 2014 Draft, emerged as one of the top pitchers in the Texas League. Though he missed the first two months of the season while recovering from a left wrist injury, Weaver thrived from the moment he threw his first pitch for Springfield on June 5.
The right-hander went on to post a 1.40 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over 12 Double-A starts. He struck out 88 and walked 10 during that stint.
It earned him a promotion to Triple-A, where he threw six scoreless innings in his debut. It would be Weaver's only outing with Memphis, as the Cardinals came calling next. Weaver went on to make eight starts for St. Louis down the stretch.
"I like what I see, and obviously the numbers this season have supported that this kid goes out and makes good pitches," manager Mike Matheny said as he announced Weaver's callup on Aug. 9. "He's had great reports for a while, but it just looks like this last year has been a different level. Wherever he's gone, whatever kind of challenge he's been given, he's been able to answer it."
Weaver ascended to the Majors in his second full professional season, and that's a feat Bader could match next year. A third-round pick in 2015, Bader slashed .283/.351/.497 with 32 extra-base hits, including 16 homers and 48 runs scored in 82 games with Springfield. The first week of July, Bader was bumped to Memphis.
His success tailed off at the higher level, though Bader nevertheless finished the year with a combined slash line of .267/.335/.452 in 131 games. The 22-year-old outfielder now heads to the Arizona Fall League, where he'll face other top prospects from around baseball.
Weaver and Bader sit second and third, respectively, on the Cardinals' top prospects list with only Alex Reyes ahead of them. On the Top 100 prospects list, the two rank No. 81 and No. 82, respectively.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.