Every other day over the next two months, John Nagel and Kyle Reis will announce a new prospect on The Redbird Daily’s Top 30 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect List. For each prospect, John and Kyle will reveal where that prospect landed on their personal lists and also few thoughts on the prospect. We hope you enjoy!
Prospect #2: Luke Weaver – 1st Round, 2014 Draft
2016 Stats: St. Louis/Memphis/Springfield – 8-7, 2.64 ERA, 119.1 IP, 137 K, 24 BB
Kyle Reis (Prospect #2 On Personal Rankings)
First, a quick recap so that I can frame my comments: Luke Weaver is the most recent in a 3 year-long line of collegiate pitchers that the Cardinals drafted with a first round pick. Like his predecessors Marco Gonzales and Michael Wacha, Weaver possessed what was considered to be one of the more advanced change ups in his draft class with solid polish of his repertoire. He was 6’2 and, if we are being honest, weighed about as much as a fourth grader.
All of the signs pointed to Weaver becoming, at least, a promising prospect. I, however, wasn’t so convinced. I really worried how a kid so thinly built would be able to hold up, even on a short season club. I had seen his highlight package, and his stuff was good, but I had never watched an entire start. I honestly believed that Weaver would have fizzled out by now.
Fast forward to today, and I might as well be the conductor of the Luke Weaver-fan-train. I absolutely love watching him pitch. Weaver was rushed to the majors because a lack of SP depth at the higher levels, and that is a shame. By the end of the 2016 season, most of Cardinals Nation was ready to strip him of his top prospect status when he struggled after an aggressive promotion to the majors. If you were one of those people, take a deep breath and try to remember that he was rushed to the majors. Give this young man a half-season in Memphis during the 2017 season and you’ll see what I saw during his dominant 2016 minor league campaign.
I know our buddy Keith Law thinks there are 11 better prospects in the system. Moving on…
Part of the reason that I’m a big fan of Luke Weaver, other than his Joe Kelly-esque personality, is because of his mechanics. Weaver really uses his lower body to generate the power needed for his 95+ MPH fastball. Weavers’ motion is all lower body drive and arm speed. Weaver gets low and has great extension during his delivery, which really works to change a hitters eye level, generate power, and get deep into the hitter. As I mentioned with fellow prospect Austin Gomber, some of the uniqueness with a pitchers motion can really help his stuff play up. The only problem with his motion is that, because of how bent his legs are and how quick his arm is, sometimes it gets really jerky. If you’ve ever tried to throw a baseball you know how important it is to stay balanced and on rhythm.
Weaver’s effectiveness as a pitcher is simple; he has to go to the fastball often while staying low in the zone in order to truly utilize his full arsenal. I watched nearly all of Weaver’s starts in the minors last year, and when that fastball hits low it’s nearly impossible to square up. Like most other pitchers with a fringy third pitch, Weaver is in serious danger when he doesn’t have complete control of his fastball. When he has the fastball command, he is as good as any pitcher in the Cardinals system.
There’s so much to like about Weaver and I really hope he gets the necessary time to flesh himself out in Memphis this season. You’ll hear the Tim Hudson comparison for Weaver often, and I like it even thought I think that’s a rosy-optimistic take. He definitely looks a lot like Tim Hudson on the mound. As John and I talked awhile ago, what I really see is Kyle Lohse. Lohse finished 7th in Cy Young voting in 2012 and I think that if Weaver learns how to handle the reigns of his fastball he’ll have a chance to place on that ballot eventually, as well.
John Nagel (Prospect #2 On Personal Rankings)
There is not really that much I can add on Luke Weaver that Kyle did not mention. I may not be as high on Weaver as Kyle is, but I do think he could be a valuable major league piece right now.
Even though he has 36 major league innings under his belt, Weaver has only made one Triple-A start in his career. There are definitely things that he can work on, like this new pitch a “one seam” fastball.
In my opinion, Weaver is nearing his peak right now, but he could be in the starting rotations of probably half the major league clubs. His prospect value comes from the fact that he is MLB ready now. There are several other pitchers who have a higher ceiling that Weaver, but are a lot more risky. Weaver will likely be the first starter called up if an injury occurs.
For 2017, I would exect him to dominate Triple-A hitters, like he has done to hitters in other leagues. He will likely also see major league innings at some point this year. After this year, the future gets cloudy.
How we rank prospects: Click Here
Best of The Rest: Click Here
#30 Prospect: Daniel Poncedeleon
#29 Prospect: Jonathan Machado
#28 Prospect: Jeremy Martinez
#27 Prospect: John Gant
#26 Prospect: Alvaro Seijas
#25 Prospect: Nick Plummer
#24 Prospect: Jordan Hicks
#23 Prospect: Zac Gallen
#22 Prospect: Bryce Denton
#21 Prospect: Johan Oviedo
#20 Propsect: Randy Arozarena
#19 Prospect: Connor Jones
#18 Prospect: Dylan Carlson
#17 Prospect: Ronnie Williams
#16 Prospect: Paul DeJong
#15 Prospect: Ryan Helsley
#14 Prospect: Eli Alvarez
#13 Prospect: Jake Woodford
#12 Prospect: Dakota Hudson
#11 Prospect: Junior Fernandez
#10 Prospect: Magneuris Sierra
#9 Prospect: Edmundo Sosa
#8 Prospect: Jack Flaherty
#7 Prospect: Harrison Bader
#6 Prospect: Austin Gomber
#5 Prospect: Sandy Alcantara
#4 Prospect: Delvin Perez
#3 Prospect: Carson Kelly
#2 Prospect: Luke Weaver
#1 Prospect: 4/2