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Prospect Weaver turning heads early

Cards righty bounces back from sluggish start in '15
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

JUPITER, Fla. -- It was too early to form much of an opinion, but, put on the spot, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak obliged. It was the first day of Spring Training, and he had been asked to cite someone who had already caught his eye.

His choice? Luke Weaver.

JUPITER, Fla. -- It was too early to form much of an opinion, but, put on the spot, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak obliged. It was the first day of Spring Training, and he had been asked to cite someone who had already caught his eye.

His choice? Luke Weaver.

Cardinals' Spring Training info

Mozeliak went on to describe Weaver as looking "fresh," a welcomed first impression of the 2014 first-round pick who a year ago got off to a sluggish start. Tightness in his right arm plagued him out of Minor League Spring Training and delayed his season debut until May.

But growth came quickly once health stopped holding him back, and by the end of his first full professional season, Weaver had delivered some of the best numbers in the club's system. Had he not fallen just short of the innings threshold needed for inclusion, Weaver would have led all Florida State League starters with a 1.62 ERA. He posted that over 105 1/3 innings, also striking out 88 and walking 19 at Class A Advanced Palm Beach.

An invite to the Arizona Fall League followed, then another to Major League camp. He may not have risen as quickly as the top two Draft picks before him (Michael Wacha and Marco Gonzales), but he's garnering attention now.

"Catching my eye is a good statement about him because he has," manager Mike Matheny said. "Not just me, but a lot of the staff. I think it starts with the stuff. The stuff looks good. The composure looks right. He's going about it the right way. He's coming in here and getting all the work done and doing all the little things right. There are some things to be excited about, but he has a lot of room to grow."

To facilitate in that process, Matheny opened camp with Weaver a part of a four-pitcher group led by ace Adam Wainwright. The assignment was intentional and, for Weaver, plenty informative. Wainwright, who has corresponded with Weaver since the Cardinals selected the wiry righty out of Florida State University, has continued to counsel.

In particular, Wainwright and Lance Lynn have helped Weaver tinker with the release point of his curveball this spring.

"These tips," Weaver acknowledged, "are helping right away."

"We always try and figure out how to put some of the young players with guys they can watch and emulate a little bit," Matheny said. "We just thought Luke would be one of the guys who would benefit from not just the spoken, but the watching the habits that have become second nature for Adam."

Weaver, ranked by MLBPipeline as St. Louis' No. 3 prospect in 2016, projects to open this season at Double-A Springfield.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast.

 

St. Louis Cardinals, Luke Weaver