Scouting profile: Luke Weaver
As is so often the case, the Cardinals have uncovered another pitcher with huge upside for their already deep stable of organizational pitching. I am very impressed with right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver.
Weaver attended DeLand (Fla.) High School and earned a selection by the Blue Jays in the 2011 Draft. Instead, he elected to pitch for Florida State.
Weaver worked his way to becoming a staff ace for the Seminoles, earning prestigious awards and honors, including being named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Team in 2014. He was on the ACC Academic Honor Roll throughout his career and made the Florida State Dean's List in '13.
Weaver is a lanky 6-foot-2, 170 pounds. One would not expect the loose, lightning-fast arm he has put on display so far in the Arizona Fall League.
In the very deep Cardinals organization, Weaver is already ranked No. 8 among the team's Top 30 Prospects, according to MLB.com.
When his stuff tailed off a bit in his junior year at FSU, Weaver didn't lose sight of his goals. He has a deceptive fastball that sits in the mid-90s, but it was higher in his first two autumn outings.
It wasn't Weaver's velocity that impressed me the most. It was the way he mixed in a fabulous changeup in the 80s and a breaking ball. He threw his entire repertoire for strikes. He consistently kept the ball down in the zone.
Looking for a third pitch beyond the fastball and changeup, Weaver discovered a new grip for his slider while playing catch with his father. The change in grip may have been the final touch in his third-pitch quest.
In the games I've scouted, Weaver entered in relief and threw very solid innings. He used his outstanding changeup as a very reliable "out" pitch.
Weaver keeps his mechanics very simple and very clean. Using a three-quarters delivery, Weaver begins his delivery by pushing his hands away from his body as a means to control his rhythm.
He is equally consistent repeating his delivery from the stretch as from the windup.
Weaver's delivery is effortless and his arm action is electric. He does land a bit to the first-base side, leaving him a bit vulnerable to fielding balls to his right.
Weaver uses his frame to his maximum advantage, getting his legs and trunk fully involved in his delivery.
Weaver's loose arm and the manner in which he attacks the hitter with excellent command can set him apart. He varies the velocity on his fastball from the mid-to-high 90s, and then brings his wipeout changeup as a finishing pitch. That fastball/changeup combination is tough on the balance of the hitter.
The late action on his pitches, and the fact he consistently uses the lower part of the zone, causes the hitter to either swing and miss or make fairly weak contact.
Weaver still has some refining to do on his breaking ball. It looks like a slider at times, but the movement varies. With additional repetition and use, the breaking ball can become a third effective weapon.
I find this interesting
Weaver told me he really enjoys being out in nature. When he had time in his past, he was an avid bird watcher.
The future for Weaver
The Cardinals may have uncovered another excellent arm for their future starting rotation. His timetable may well depend upon the effectiveness and consistency of his third pitch.
Weaver experienced an inflamed shoulder this past spring, and he was assigned to extended spring training to start the year. The team shut him down this season after he threw 105 1/3 innings at Class A Advanced Palm Beach. Weaver went 8-5 with a 1.62 ERA, and he had 88 strikeouts while walking only 19.
It would not surprise me if he found his way to the middle of the team's rotation once he eliminates some inconsistency and repeats his performances.
Weaver in a word