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Viva El Birdos 2017 Cardinals Top Prospects: #2 Luke Weaver

Starter or Reliever?

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals-Media Day Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: the red baron has once again written up a very large number of prospects, done a great job on them, and combined them in just a few posts. You can read those posts, including a dozen reports on players who just missed the list by going here. This post contains a write-up of just a single prospect in a perhaps easier to digest form.-CE

#2: Luke Weaver, RHP

6’2”, 160 lbs; R/R; 21 August 1993

Relevant Stats: 2.40 FIP (Springfield), 4.33 FIP, 27.0% K (St. Louis)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

I’ll be honest: I don’t have a ton to say about Luke Weaver. He made it to St. Louis for nine games (eight starts), last year, and mostly held his own. He got hammered with a high HR/FB%, and thus his overall home runs totals were somewhat ghastly, but he also struck out a bunch of hitters, didn’t walk a bunch of hitters, and looked close to ready for his closeup.

It’s a 55 fastball, sitting in the low-90s with nice movement and finish, and a legit 70 changeup that just disappears when it’s on. That one-two punch is what’s good about Weaver, as well as his aggressive approach to filling the zone.

What’s not so great is that Weaver still hasn’t really come up with a consistent breaking ball. It was the biggest black mark against him when he was drafted back in 2013, and it remains the biggest question mark for him now. I do like the cutter he’s added; quite a lot, in fact, but it’s more suited for generating weak contact than swings and misses.

I still worry about Weaver breaking down, not because of his slight build but because of his arm action. He missed time with the dreaded ‘forearm discomfort’ two seasons ago, but remained healthy last year. Well, not entirely healthy; he did miss time early in the year with an injury, but I have yet to see an arm action so disastrous it can actually break a pitcher’s non-throwing wrist, so I’m going to assume that was a fluke.

The bottom line is this: Luke Weaver is going to throw strikes, and he has one really great weapon. The lack of a breaking ball would, one would think, limit his ability to get swings and misses, but he struck out 27% of the hitters he faced in the big leagues, and 28.6% of the hitters he faced in Double-A. If he’s going to have trouble missing bats, we haven’t really seen that yet, particularly since he added the cutter to his arsenal.

Weaver will probably head back to Triple-A to start the season, due to a roster crunch. He’ll start every fifth day there, and wait to either be traded at the deadline, or take over Lance Lynn’s rotation spot when he’s traded at the deadline.

Player Comp: Hard fastball, great change, no breaking ball, and a super scary arm action? I said Anthony Reyes last year, and I say Anthony Reyes again now. (Although Tim Hudson comes to mind in certain other ways as well.)