Q&A: Luke Weaver, Cardinals Pitching Prospect

Luke Weaver dominated high-A in his first full professional season. In 19 Florida State League starts, the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2014 first-round pick had a 1.11 WHIP and a 1.62 ERA.

There was no opportunity for the lanky righty to prove himself in Double-A. He didn’t make his first 2015 appearance until mid-May — according to St. Louis assistant GM Michael Girsch, there was “no specific injury” — and the club proceeded to keep him in the FSL for the entire campaign. Wanting to augment his innings — Weaver spun 105 at Palm Beach — they subsequently sent the 22-year-old former Florida State Seminole to the Arizona Fall League for further seasoning.

Weaver, who gets high marks for his changeup and his ability to command the strike zone, discussed his development late in the AFL season.


Weaver on his build and his delivery: “Right now, I’m 6’ 2” and about 175 pounds. I work on getting bigger and stronger, but that’s not something I see as an absolute must. I accept how I’m built. Being loose and agile are tools that I can use to my advantage.

“My delivery is long and loose. I have a coil with my leg and throw across my body — I just kind of sling it in there. I don’t know exactly who I’d compare my windup to. The coil isn’t extreme — it’s not a Cueto or a Lincecum — but rather more like an Arrieta, where he kind of has that sideways coil.”

On his curveball and his slider: “My innings were down a little bit, so they wanted me to tack on a few more (in the AFL). They also wanted me to come here to get more reps on my slider.

“I’ve kind of always had the slider. It’s just never been great, so I started developing the curveball. I think (my curveball) is a decent pitch — it’s a soft pitch — and it’s been really beneficial. It’s allowed me to get ahead in counts, just flipping it over, and to mix speeds better. When my slider reappeared toward the back end of the season, it was better, so I’ve kept it in the repertoire. It’s all starting to come together for me, with four pitches.”

On his velocity: “I’d say I’m in the high 70s with the curveball. My slider is mid-80s and sometimes upper 80s; occasionally it will be low 80s, so I guess it kind of varies. It depends on the day and what kind of break I’m getting.

“Out here, my fastball (velocity) has been pretty good. It’s been low to mid (90s) and I’ve been able to sit around three to four. From there I can reach back for a little extra when I need to put someone away. I throw a four-seam. I’ve played around with a two-seam, but I’m pretty much four.”

On Baseball America saying he’s more of a fly-ball pitcher: “That’s not necessarily true. With my stats from the whole year, I’d say my percentage of ground balls is higher — not a good amount higher, but higher. I’d say I was 60-40 ground balls, if not closer to 70-30.

“I think my ground balls come mostly from keeping my fastball down in the zone. I’m kind of from a three-quarter slot, so I get a little bit of an arm-side run. Sometimes it’s bigger and sometimes it’s smaller, but it’s enough for me to get a little bit of deception as the ball is coming in. If I keep it down in the bottom of the zone, I get a lot more ground balls. Obviously, if I get it up in the zone, more fly balls come.

“You typically want to work down, but working up can actually be effective. You just need to pick the right times to do it, and make sure you hit a good spot. I think it’s an undervalued tool, and something every pitcher should work on once they’ve mastered down in the zone.”

On not getting promoted to Double-A; “I wouldn’t say it was frustrating. I understand how this works. We have deep pitching in our organization, and with this being my first full year, I had a lot to learn. There was a foundation to build on, with the innings and the grind of minor league baseball. I understood. Things were going well and I just focused on having consistent outings. I’ll continue to build more next year.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

Comments are closed.