Weaver Brings Versatility & Pop

LYNCHBURG, VA - In the middle of the Virginia Mountains the Lynchburg Hillcats have their sights set on a Carolina League championship and everyone in the ball club is giving it their all for the last stretch of the season. Matt Weaver is one of those guys; however, what makes him different than most is his ability to play most every position on the field and have pop in the batter's box.

"This offseason my main focus was to stay in shape and trying to gain weight," Weaver said. "Spring training went alright; we got some new guys that I got to meet and develop a relationship with them."

Batting only .223 entering Tuesday night with just 14 walks and 101 strikeouts this season, there is still plenty of work to be done.

"Right now I'm working on my two strike approach, I tend to get two strikes and swing at everything," he admitted. "I'm working on seeing the ball and get more comfortable. I've been trying to put the ball in play and get myself a hit. I tend to be a free swinger and get myself out."

A .243 hitter before the All Star break, Weaver is hitting just .208 in the second half and he has seen his strikeouts pile up at a quicker rate.

"I started off the season good; I felt comfortable. I came into the year just trying to keep everything as simple as possible. I wasn't trying to press or worry about statistics; I was just trying to put the ball on the barrel and what will happen is going to happen.

"Defensively, I think I've played every position except for pitcher and centerfield. It doesn't matter where I am; I'm comfortable at most spots."

While there are still some offensive issues to iron out, Hillcats' hitting coach Bobby Moore is confident in Weavers abilities at the plate but is still looking for him to improve.

"He's a guy that has surprising power for such a small guy," Moore said. "He's just got to learn to utilize the whole field, which he's getting better at and knowing the strike zone.

"I think he will be fine but with everybody it's always a process and knowing who you are as a hitter. I think that's the key. He's got power but he's not a power hitter; he's got to learn to trust his swing. His "A" swing is a line drive type of swing, a gap to gap kind of swing and if the ball goes out it's a plus.

"For me he has done okay and he's got a long way to go to get better. Knowing the strike zone is the key and in order to be a good hitter I think you have to swing at strikes. That's what he is going through right now. I think his average and his power numbers will take off just by doing that."

Still though, while the average might be lower than desired and the strikeouts a bit too high, the fact is Weaver still brings a lot to a team.

"He's an interesting guy because he plays every position on the field," Moore added. "It's a manager's dream to have a guy like that who can play every position on the field. The sky is the limit for him and it is up to him how far he will go.

"I think the key is swinging at more strikes at the plate and being more selective as a hitter. If he can manage that and continue to get better then I think he has a good chance to play in the Major Leagues."

Team manager Luis Salazar has been impressed with Weaver's talent this year and is expecting him to step up for the last games of the season.

"He came late in Spring Training so I didn't see much of him," Salazar said. "In the season he's been a terrific guy. He's a little guy with power that plays multiple positions.

"He's got a great arm and he's a good kid to have in your club. He gets along well with everybody. The only thing he needs to do is be more consistent in the strike zone and make contact. He's got power and does all the little things right. He plays all his positions well.

"He needs to improve in hitting and be more consistent. He strikes out too much; for a little guy he needs to stay within the strike zone more. He's got power but he thinks his a power hitter. If he swings at strikes he's going to be fine but a lot of times he's out of the strike zone."

He has played first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field, and right field this season, and that kind of versatility alone brings a lot of inherent value.

"Defensively he's been great everywhere," Salazar said. "It's nice to have a guy like that who can play everywhere. He's also got pop but sometimes after he gets a home run he wants to swing at every pitch for a home run.

"He's got a chance to go somewhere because he plays everywhere. He's got all the tools to contribute and play in the big leagues. If he becomes more consistent and makes more contact then he's got a good chance to advance."


Atlanta Dugout Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"This offseason my main focus was to stay in shape and trying to gain weight,\" Weaver said. \"Spring training went alright; we got some new guys that I got to meet and develop a relationship with them.\"
\r\n
\r\nBatting only .223 entering Tuesday night with just 14 walks and 101 strikeouts this season, there is still plenty of work to be done.
\r\n
\r\n\"Right now I'm working on my two strike approach, I tend to get two strikes and swing at everything,\" he admitted. \"I'm working on seeing the ball and get more comfortable. I've been trying to put the ball in play and get myself a hit. I tend to be a free swinger and get myself out.\"
\r\n
\r\nA .243 hitter before the All Star break, Weaver is hitting just .208 in the second half and he has seen his strikeouts pile up at a quicker rate.
\r\n
\r\n\"I started off the season good; I felt comfortable. I came into the year just trying to keep everything as simple as possible. I wasn't trying to press or worry about statistics; I was just trying to put the ball on the barrel and what will happen is going to happen.
\r\n
\r\n\"Defensively, I think I've played every position except for pitcher and centerfield. It doesn't matter where I am; I'm comfortable at most spots.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile there are still some offensive issues to iron out, Hillcats' hitting coach Bobby Moore is confident in Weavers abilities at the plate but is still looking for him to improve.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's a guy that has surprising power for such a small guy,\" Moore said. \"He's just got to learn to utilize the whole field, which he's getting better at and knowing the strike zone.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think he will be fine but with everybody it's always a process and knowing who you are as a hitter. I think that's the key. He's got power but he's not a power hitter; he's got to learn to trust his swing. His \"A\" swing is a line drive type of swing, a gap to gap kind of swing and if the ball goes out it's a plus.
\r\n
\r\n\"For me he has done okay and he's got a long way to go to get better. Knowing the strike zone is the key and in order to be a good hitter I think you have to swing at strikes. That's what he is going through right now. I think his average and his power numbers will take off just by doing that.\"
\r\n
\r\nStill though, while the average might be lower than desired and the strikeouts a bit too high, the fact is Weaver still brings a lot to a team.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's an interesting guy because he plays every position on the field,\" Moore added. \"It's a manager's dream to have a guy like that who can play every position on the field. The sky is the limit for him and it is up to him how far he will go.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think the key is swinging at more strikes at the plate and being more selective as a hitter. If he can manage that and continue to get better then I think he has a good chance to play in the Major Leagues.\"
\r\n
\r\nTeam manager Luis Salazar has been impressed with Weaver's talent this year and is expecting him to step up for the last games of the season.
\r\n
\r\n\"He came late in Spring Training so I didn't see much of him,\" Salazar said. \"In the season he's been a terrific guy. He's a little guy with power that plays multiple positions.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's got a great arm and he's a good kid to have in your club. He gets along well with everybody. The only thing he needs to do is be more consistent in the strike zone and make contact. He's got power and does all the little things right. He plays all his positions well.
\r\n
\r\n\"He needs to improve in hitting and be more consistent. He strikes out too much; for a little guy he needs to stay within the strike zone more. He's got power but he thinks his a power hitter. If he swings at strikes he's going to be fine but a lot of times he's out of the strike zone.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe has played first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field, and right field this season, and that kind of versatility alone brings a lot of inherent value.
\r\n
\r\n\"Defensively he's been great everywhere,\" Salazar said. \"It's nice to have a guy like that who can play everywhere. He's also got pop but sometimes after he gets a home run he wants to swing at every pitch for a home run.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's got a chance to go somewhere because he plays everywhere. He's got all the tools to contribute and play in the big leagues. If he becomes more consistent and makes more contact then he's got a good chance to advance.\"
\r\n
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