As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we'll be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Cardinals' camp, it was No. 3 prospect Luke Weaver. JUPITER, Fla. -- Luke Weaver was the Cardinals' top pick, taken No. 27 overall, in
As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we'll be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Cardinals' camp, it was No. 3 prospect Luke Weaver.
JUPITER, Fla. -- Luke Weaver was the Cardinals' top pick, taken No. 27 overall, in the 2014 Draft. Though he didn't begin his 2016 campaign until May, the 23-year-old right-hander made up for the lost time with 12 outstanding starts at Double-A Springfield -- and one at Triple-A Memphis -- before making his big league debut in August and logging eight starts for the Cardinals down the stretch.
:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::
MLBPipeline.com: Where were you and what were you doing when you got the call that you were going to the big leagues?
Weaver: I had just made my first Triple-A start, and the next day I was with Carson Kelly and Mason Katz on our way to the Marucci factory for a tour. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot was when the call came. I missed the entire tour and just sat in the car calling everybody.
MLBPipeline.com: What have you learned from some of the Cardinals' veteran starting pitchers?
Weaver: I just try to soak in all the wisdom and knowledge that they have. I've learned a lot just from watching their starts and how they go about their business. I look at their every start and every pitch to get an idea for how to amplify my game in different ways, and, of course, ask them specific questions whenever possible.
MLBPipeline.com: When we last spoke during the 2015 Arizona Fall League, you were working on your slider. However, pitch tracking data from your nine big league appearances last season indicates that you relied more on a cutter and threw your slider sparingly. Is that accurate, or are those two pitches one in the same for you?
Weaver: Good question. That pitch is kind of a hybrid, because there are actually two different ways I throw it, and I use both now. In the AFL I was working on more of a true slider, but then I started developing it in a way so that I could throw it harder and get more late cutter-ish action. I think I have the ability to throw both; now it's a matter of picking my spots to do so based on the batter and the situation. I think it's all come together well, because now I have two different ways to throw it.
• Cardinals Spring Training report
MLBPipeline.com: Do you feel any extra pressure to contribute this year in the wake of Alex Reyes' season-ending injury?
Weaver: Losing a guy such as him is a big loss for our team and organization, but that just means someone will have to step up. We have quite a few guys who are right there on the cusp of coming up, and I think it could be any one of us, or all of us, who help pick up the slack. We have a lot of good help, lots of guys capable of doing a good job.
MLBPipeline.com: What are your biggest developmental objectives this year?
Weaver: Continuing to improve my offspeed pitches. That's always been the knock on me. My changeup has been good, but improving my slider, cutter and curveball is key. I need to at least have a three-pitch mix, and ideally add a fourth. I like where I'm at with that now. It's just a matter of repetitions and going out there and throwing all of them, because you can't get better unless it's game speed. This spring has given me an opportunity to do that, and I think it's already helped me to elevate my game.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.