If one is an optimist, one would say St. Louis Cardinals prospect pitcher Luke Weaver has a system that allows him to finish the season strongly. The pessimists would grumble aloud that the talented right-hander must be injury-prone.
Whichever side of that fence you are on, the truth is that Weaver will open the regular season on the disabled list for the second consecutive year.
In 2015, the problem was positioned that Weaver needed time to build up arm strength. After staying behind in extended spring training, the 22-year-old was taken off Palm Beach’s disabled list on May 14 and went on to make 19 Florida State League starts and seven more appearances in the Arizona Fall League. The Cardinal Nation’s fourth-ranked prospect came to 2016 Major League spring training camp as a non-roster invitee before being sent out on March 13.
When I first saw Weaver in minor league camp this week, I asked him how he was doing. At the time, I did not follow up on his “It could be better” reply. Only when I saw Weaver throwing with rehabbing pitcher Robby Rowland on Friday did I realize there was a problem.
Weaver’s throwing arm appeared fine as he long-tossed, but a teammate was catching the return throws. It turns out that earlier this week he suffered a fracture in his left, non-throwing hand. Apparently there was a collision during batting practice.
In the photo above, you can see the protective cast on Weaver’s left wrist.
“It’s not so bad,” Weaver said on Friday. “I should only miss three to four weeks.”
The always-sunny reliever, who had to undergo February surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow, is light-tossing already. With a big grin on his face, Rowland reminded me that he remains on his plan to return to action before the end of the regular season.
Like Weaver, Rowland completed 2015 in the Arizona Fall League after he quickly progressed from Peoria through Palm Beach to Springfield during the summer. Rowland would have been a non-roster invitee to MLB camp had his elbow not flared up.
As reported here earlier in the week, pitchers Silfredo Garcia and Tyler Waldron were also NRIs, but these two had physical problems upon reporting that made minor league rehab a better place for them to start them this spring.
Garcia is already pitching in games, with Waldron making progress toward his debut. The right-hander suffered an impingement in his right, throwing shoulder that has responded to treatment. He expects to throw live batting practice this weekend and get into game action next week.
With camp time running out, it seems to me that Waldron could open 2016 on Memphis’ disabled list.
After the shortstop underwent right shoulder surgery last June, it was hoped he would be ready this spring. However, Herrera instead required a second procedure in December. That kept him from participating in STEP camp this spring. The Cardinal Nation’s 17th-ranked prospect in 2015 lost much of last season and looks to be headed toward a return to the shelf to open 2016. Herrera believes he will be cleared to start hitting soon.
If healthy, Herrera would have been my choice to start at shortstop for Springfield. With the setback, however, he may need time in extended spring training to work his way back up to speed.
Remember to check The Cardinal Nation Blog each evening during spring training for the day's minor league stat highlights and notes and the Roster Matrix. The matrix has every transaction listed along with all players in the system by level and position, including the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and non-roster spring training invitees, STEP campers and more.
Prior articles in this series
Cardinals Minors Pitching Plans: 03/26-28/16
Cards Spring News from Jupiter: 03/25/16
Cards Release Once-Promising Lefty Stoppelman
Cards Spring News from Jupiter: 03/24/16
Cards Spring News from Jupiter: 03/23/16
Cardinals Minors Working Rosters - 03/22/16
Cardinals Say Goodbye to Three Minor Leaguers
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