St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Luke Weaver will make his major league debut tomorrow, taking on Kyle Hendricks and the Chicago Cubs. Just two years out of college, Weaver has zipped through the minors and looks ready for an MLB trial. Let's take a look.
Basics from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book
Luke Weaver, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 170 DOB: August 21, 1993
2015: Grade B-
Drafted in the first round in 2014, former Florida State University ace Luke Weaver remained an ace in the Florida State League last year, dominating the circuit for Palm Beach. Positives: exceptional command and location control of his fastball and plus change-up. His curveball and slider, inconsistent in college, have both improved in pro ball. He has a strong mound presence. Negatives: his fastball velocity record is erratic; he was at 93-96 as a sophomore, then down to 88-92 in 2015, then back up to 92-93 last year. Where will that stabilize? We also need to see what happens with more than a 100-inning workload. Weaver has tremendous pitchability and could reach the majors this year, at a minimum as a command-oriented number four starter. Depending on the uncertain factors, he could be a number three. Grade B.
Weaver has made 13 starts this year for Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis, going 7-3 with a 1.30 ERA and a 92/12 K/BB in 83 innings. Overall, in his minor league career he is 15-9 in 38 starts, 1.78 ERA, with a 192/35 K/BB in 198 innings, just 178 hits allowed.
You can't argue with the stats, but what about the pre-season questions?
****Stuff: No issues here. Weaver has worked consistently at 92-94 this year with readings as high as 96. He retained his impressive change-up and has added a cutter to round out the arsenal and give hitters a different look.
****Durability: The Cardinals have been very cautious with Weaver's workload and we still don't know how well he will handle a larger innings load. Positive markers are his efficient approach. . .he wastes few pitches. . .and his athletic body, both factors that should help him stay healthy. But he does have a history of injury and a slight frame, and it remains to be seen what will happen long-term.
Weaver has had no trouble adapting to higher levels. While he doesn't offer as much pure physical upside as Alex Reyes, Weaver's combination of pitchability and stuff should make him an above-average starting pitcher once he gets his feet wet.
I had him as a Grade B pre-season. That's at least a B+ now and you can make a good case for A-.