Q&A With Rays 21st Round Pick Jon Weaver

Central Michigan right-handed pitcher Jon Weaver was the 662nd overall pick in this year's draft and was chosen by the Rays in the 21st round. The Illinois native, who led the Chippewas in appearances (26) and saves (7), has already signed with the team and is en-route to Port Charlotte. Inside, he discusses his approach to pitching, the pressure of being a closer, the Rays organization and more.

School: Central Michigan University
Born: 5/20/1990
B/T: R/R
HT/WT: 6-3/215

• Went 3-3 with a 2.66 ERA (44-IP, 13-ER) overall as a senior at Central Michigan University, including 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 7 saves, fourth most in single-season school history.

• Earned two wins and a save while pitching 3.1 perfect innings with six strikeouts in the MAC Tournament.

• Played previously at Heartland Community College from 2009-10.

• Earned All-Area and All-State honors as a junior and a senior at East Leyden (Ill.) HS.

• Previously selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 17th round of the 2008 June Draft.


Rays Digest: When you found out you had been selected by the Rays, what was that moment like?

Jon Weaver: I felt a huge relief when I found out I was drafted. I was previously drafted in 2008 by the White Sox, but did not end up signing. Over the past four years of college, I was just hoping I would get the chance again, so this was a major blessing.

Rays Digest: Were you surprised at all? Had you been in contact with the Rays organization before?

Jon Weaver: I hadn't really been in contact with the Rays until the very end of the year during the conference tournament. However, Tom Couston has been around and watching me since my junior year of high school so he was a familiar face when he approached me this past year.

Rays Digest: It was a strong year for CMU baseball, as you helped your team en route to yet another 30 win season. Even more impressive, you had four teammates that were also drafted this year. How did being part of such a successful environment help your game?

Jon Weaver: When you are able to be on a team with numerous draft picks it means a lot, not only for the program as a whole, but also for myself. I was one of four pitchers drafted this year and this allowed me to have at least three other pitchers who I was to give and take ideas from in terms of how to be more successful as a pitcher. Our coaches were also the most personable coaches that I have ever had and I owe a lot of my success to them.

Rays Digest: What are some things you can take away from your experience at CMU?

Jon Weaver: I can a few things; first, it was a great experience that allowed me to make friends that I will have for the rest of my life. CMU runs the baseball program first-class. For our conference, we have one of, if not the best facilities and it was an honor to play there. There is such a proud tradition and to be a Chippewa and be able to carry on that tradition means the world to me.

Rays Digest: What types of things do you bring to the table as a player? Could you provide a brief scouting report on yourself?

Jon Weaver: I pride myself on being a very hard-nosed and level headed player. I don't let the outside in and I am 100% focused on the task at hand. As far as a scouting report, I throw four pitches: a sinker that generally sits 91-93 and can get up to 94. I also throw a modified circle changeup that has good depth and run at times and that I can keep down in the zone. I throw both a slider and a curveball, with the slider being the better of the two and the curveball as more of a show-me pitch.

Rays Digest: What's your approach on the mound when it comes to attacking hitters?

Jon Weaver: At CMU, our pitching coach, Jeff Opalewski, preached the difference between letting the hitter make contact and forcing the hitter to make contact. I try to pound the strike zone with as many well located pitches as possible in an attempt to make the hitters hit my pitches. I work fast on the mound and have had success in overwhelming hitters with consistently throwing strikes and working quickly.

Rays Digest: You have pitched in many different scenarios, and eventually took over the closer role for your team in your senior year. Does your approach or mentality change depending on which part of the game you end up pitching?

Jon Weaver: As a closer, I love the pressure of coming into the game during a crucial situation. I don't really think that the mentality changes as you switch between different roles, however the approach varies greatly. As a reliever, you don't have knowledge of when you are going to pitch, so you have to be ready every inning of every game. Every time I heard my name called down to the bullpen this year, I was immediately right into the mentality that I needed to get the job done and knew how I was going to do it.

Rays Digest: Do you think that versatility will help you moving forward?

Jon Weaver: I think the ability to be able to both start and relieve will help me out. I am a bit of a different pitcher depending on what scenario I am placed into, as obviously as a starter you are going to be extended more than a closer. However, this doesn't change my approach of attacking the hitter with every pitch and forcing contact. Being versatile hopefully will be more of a help to the team than to me however, allowing me to contribute in whatever way I can to get wins.

Rays Digest: In which areas are you trying to improve the most?

Jon Weaver: The area that I am trying to improve most is with consistency of my curveball. Right now it is more of a show-me pitch, but I would like to make it a viable out-pitch in the near future.

Rays Digest: Are there any players, past or present, that you have tried to model your game after?

Jon Weaver: I try to model my game after Craig Biggio the most, for one specific reason. Day in and day out, you knew that Craig Biggio was going to give 110% on every single pitch. I go out to the mound and throw every pitch with a purpose; you can't take a pitch off in baseball because just one play can be a game changer. I want to be remembered as someone who gave it his all every single time I stepped on the mound.

Rays Digest: How are negotiations going? Do you anticipate signing soon?

I signed my contract today at my home near Chicago and am going to be jumping on a plane tomorrow morning headed for Port Charlotte for a physical and a three day mini-camp.

Rays Digest: Do you have an idea of where you'll end up?

As of right now, where I end up is in the air. I could either end up with the Princeton Rays or the Hudson Valley Renegades; I should know by the end of the week.

Rays Digest: Lastly, what does it mean to you to be a Rays draft pick?

Jon Weaver: Being a draft pick to any team is such a high honor. This is the dream of so many and so few actually get to see their dream materialize; I am lucky enough to do that. Knowing that I am in the Rays organization makes it even better as the organization has some of the best pitching coaches in baseball today. I am looking forward to the chance to take in every bit of information so I can to continue towards my ultimate goal of playing for the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Brad Lymburner is a staff writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @_BradL.


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