School: Florida State University
Selected 2014 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (9): Luke Weaver, like some other players in our countdown, was on the receiving end of a lot of derision during the community vote. His three innings in the Florida State League and subsequent shut-down caused a lot of posters to drop Weaver down in their voting.
SoonerinNC believes that Weaver was shut down for the year due to fatigue after pitching competitively since February. MagnoliaCardFan did not find Weaver's potential fatigue to be all that encouraging given he pitched less than 120 innings for the year. Likewise, UncleDenny was not happy with Weaver's performance.
CardsInChitown reigned in the votes by the time voting for #9 came up, when he posted that he thinks Weaver could turn into a #3 starter in the Majors. - Jeremy Byrd
Derek Shore: The Cardinals’ first selection out of the 2014 draft class, taken at the 27th pick, was Florida State University’s Luke Weaver. Weaver signed for the slotted amount for his pick, then debuted at the Gulf Coast League and finished the season for the Palm Beach Cardinals to get his pro career underway.
It was clear from the start that the Cardinals handed Weaver an innings cap to limit his workload to around 110-120 innings between his college and pro appearances. He did throw past the fourth inning in any of his six starts for the GCL Cardinals and Palm Beach Cardinals. Not surprisingly, Weaver dominated in the GCL against raw younger talent, and struggled a bit in his two starts at Palm Beach with a 12+ ERA.
The right-hander features in his repertoire a fastball that will consistently sit in the 89-93 mph range with some nice late sink that he can spot to both sides of the plate. The heater can top out at as high as 97 mph. His most advanced pitch is a changeup that has great life and is deceptive because of his crazy fast arm speed. However, his third pitch is lacking, as his slider is still a work in progress.
Weaver fits the mold of what the Cardinals like in a college pitcher, with superb makeup, competitiveness, top-notch results, and stuff with potential. Although his arsenal doesn’t quite match that of Michael Wacha or Marco Gonzales, he is advanced enough to be a fast-riser as were his two recent predecessors.
I see Weaver spending much of his first full season at Palm Beach, and once he gets enough experience and masters the Florida State League, I expect to see him in Springfield.
Brian Walton (8): I feel less confident about my first-hand knowledge of Weaver that any other player in the entire top 40. Let me clarify.
It is not like he is not a well-known player. After all, Weaver pitched in the College World Series as a freshman for a major program at FSU, broke out as a sophomore, excelled for Team USA that summer and became a first-rounder following his junior year.
What I mean is that I did not get to see him pitch, either in the Gulf Coast League or in the Florida State League, as his first partial season as a professional ended very quickly. With his innings capped, he also did not participate in the instructional league, instead taking the fall off to rest up.
At this point, Weaver’s $1.843 million bonus as the 27th overall pick is still doing a lot of talking for him. Certainly that is why he is ranked in our top 10 here. His time pitching after signing last summer was so short in duration that no conclusions can be drawn.
Perhaps that is the problem, as Weaver seems to be the lowest-key first-rounder taken by the Cardinals at any time in recent years. It just doesn’t seem like there is the same buzz there was about Michael Wacha or Marco Gonzales the last two years. In fact, is there any buzz at all?
I have to admit I am not wowed from the distance. Physically, the 21-year-old does not stand out, being just 6-foot-2 and slender at 175 pounds. That is area codes away from the 6-foot-6 Wacha and is even an inch shorter and 20 pounds lighter than was Shelby Miller when the high schooler reported to the Cardinals as an 18-year-old in 2009.
Then there is Weaver’s offerings. With Team USA following his junior year, he was wowing scouts, sitting 92-95 and hitting 97 mph with his fastball every time out. His changeup was above average to plus with command and his slider was considered above average at times.
In spring 2014, Weaver slid down draft lists as he had ongoing problems with his breaking ball, rated below average well over half the time he threw it. As a result, Weaver was downgraded by some to mid-rotation starter potential – if he can find consistency with his breaking ball.
Like I said before, we just haven’t seen enough of Weaver to pass judgment on him as a professional. Perhaps more so than any other pitcher in spring training camp, I am looking forward to seeing him in action in Jupiter in March.
Our 2015 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
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