Scouting Cardinals Call-Ups Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver

St. Louis has added two of their top pitching prospects, Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver, to the big-league club over the last few days. Below are my brief thoughts on both of them as they try to buoy the Cardinals’ shot at a wild-card berth.

The most famous of the two prospects is RHP Alex Reyes. Reyes grew up in New Jersey but moved to the Dominican in December of 2011 in order to reclassify as an international amateur free agent. He signed a year later at the age of 18 for $950,000. In four pro seasons Reyes has dominated every level, from the Appalachian League and above, earning a big-league call-up despite having made just 69 career minor-league starts. He missed the end of last year’s Arizona Fall League and the start of this season due to a suspension for marijuana use.

Reyes sits 94-97 mph during starts but has been up to 101 with movement in short bursts, as he was both during his debut on Tuesday and in the Futures Game. It’ll be a no-doubt 80 fastball as long as he’s pitching in relief which, he told reporters, would be his initial role, and I think it will be an 80 fastball at maturity. Despite his size (Reyes is listed at a laughable 6-foot-3, 175 but is probably closer to 220 and lacks much positive physical projection), we are talking about a player still just shy of his 22nd birthday and short of his physical prime.

His changeup and his ability to locate it have improved considerably from just last year. Once a tertiary afterthought, the pitch has become more important to Reyes this year — and, at points, he’s leaned on the changeup more heavily than his curveball. He’ll throw it in any count to right- and left-handed hitters and while it isn’t a plus, bat-missing offering in a vacuum, it’s a nasty surprise when hitters are anticipating triple-digit heat. The change sits anywhere from 86-90 with a little bit of fading movement.

Reyes has always had good feel for spinning his curveball, a pitch that grades out as plus purely on stuff, but his ability to locate it (something he did fairly consistently during his stint in last year’s AFL) has evaporated. In the bullpen it won’t matter as much and Reyes is free to operate more inefficiently, but if he’s going to capitalize on top-of-the-rotation stuff and become a high-end starter, he’ll need to reclaim that. The curveball sits in the mid- to upper-70s with big depth and biting, roller-coaster descent.

I’ve also seen a slider from Reyes in the 84-86 range but haven’t heard much about it this year and it’s possible that it has been scrapped for now, though I did put a future 55 on it after seeing Reyes in last year’s AFL. Just something to keep an eye on.

Reyes’ command is below average and indeed walks have been an issue this year as they have throughout his entire career. While that may raise concerns for some about his ability to remain a starter, I think the combination of repertoire depth, quality and Reyes’ massive inning-eating frame will be enough to keep him in the rotation even if he has trouble throwing strikes throughout his career and I think eventually he’ll have enough command to become a #2 starter. If he ever has above average command, he’s going to be one of baseball’s best arms.

Alex Reyes, Tool Profile
Tool Present Future
Fastball 70 70
Curveball 60 70
Changeup 50 60
Command 30 40
FV 65

We move on to Luke Weaver, who isn’t nearly as explosive — but perhaps more interesting — than Reyes because of his career arc and the way his delivery allows some of his pitches to be effective while cannibalizing others. Weaver was a major-conference college performer at Florida State and stomped on to the draft radar as a sophomore before his velo took a step back as a junior. Pre-draft, his velo was more often down in the low 90s than it was as a sophomore when he was bumping 96 pretty frequently. That velocity has returned and Weaver has been up to 97 this year. He has a drop-and-drive delivery that sucks the plane out of his fastball, but the pitch has some natural sink to it. While Weaver’s terrific use of his lower half undoubtedly helps him generate that kind of velocity, I’m interested to see how his fastball plays in the upper half of the strike zone without much downhill action to it.

Luckily for Weaver, he arguably has plus control already and likely projects to. He’s very athletic and takes a direct line to the plate, helping him to pound the strike zone. He’s walked just 12 hitters in 83 innings this year.

Weaver’s top secondary offering has always been his changeup. It’s an above-average pitch with arm side tail and Weaver does an exceptional job of repeating his fastball’s arm speed. He runs it in on righties as well as away from lefties.

Weaver struggled to find a consistent breaking ball in college and throughout his minor-league career. Reports on the curveball this season are better but it remains inconsistent. Weaver has also added a cutter, something we first saw from him during last year’s AFL, that sits in the mid-80s. It too, was inconsistent at the time and I have it ranging anywhere from a 40 to a 55 in my notes, but it has continued to improve and might by the lynchpin for much of Weaver’s success this season.

While he lacks awe-inspiring stuff, the repertoire is deep and Weaver throws plenty of strikes, a combination which I think will equate to a solid mid-rotation big-league starter. There’s a chance for more if the cutter, which is still fairly new, progresses beyond my projection.

Luke Weaver, Tool Profile
Tool Present Future
Fastball 60 60
Changeup 55 60
Curveball 45 45
Cutter 45 50
Command 55 60
FV 50





Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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Kevin Carter
Member

Fantastic stuff. I’ve had the chance to see Luke Weaver in Frisco this season and I have to think the one place I disagree with you is the cutter at 50 FV. What we saw was a sharp late life cutter that sat between 90-93 and Luke was using it perfectly by breaking it into the hands of lefties.

You note that you’ve seen it from 40-55 so maybe I just caught it on a good day, but I have it down as a potential plus pitch if he finds the consistency and feel for it.

Anyways, thanks for the read!