Player: Luke Weaver
Drafted by: St. Louis Cardinals
DOB: 08/21/1993 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 170 pounds
School: Florida State
Previously Drafted: 19th round, 2011 (Toronto)
A 19th-round selection by the Blue Jays in the 2011 draft, right-hander Luke Weaver decided to pass on the opportunity to begin his professional career out of high school, and instead honored his previous commitment to Florida State.
After a turbulent freshman season (5.93 ERA in 41 innings), Weaver bounced back with a breakout performance the following year, as he went 7-2 over 15 starts with a 2.29 ERA and stellar 119/19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 98.1 innings. The right-hander’s success continued well into the summer while pitching for the USA National Collegiate Team, as he posted a 17/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 21 impressive innings.
This spring, Weaver posted a solid 2.62 for the Seminoles while setting new career-highs in starts (16) and innings pitched (106.1). However, the right-hander did endure a slight regression, as his 0.68 HR/9 and 7.19 K/9 both marked the worst rates of his three-year career.
That being said, Weaver’s impressive command profile and strong track record of missing bats against quality college hitters should still lead to his selection at some point on Day 1 of the draft.
Full Scouting Report
The 6’2”, 170-pound right-hander lacks an efficient delivery, but it’s consistent, and he’s always been able to make it work thanks to his strong frame and athleticism; sets up on first-base side of rubber before initiating a large, synchronized raise of his leg and hands; arm action is relatively clean, though he does have a modest hook on the back side while working from a high three-quarters slot.
He struggles to maintain posture when releasing the ball; he sometimes jerks his head to the glove side, which in turns limits his arm action and control/command; helps compensate for some of the mechanical inefficiency with lightning-quick arm.
Fastball has consistently registered at 88-92 mph this spring, but he’s reached as high as 97 mph in the past; maintains velocity deep into games; combination of downhill plane and arm action produces good sinking action and some arm-side run that makes the pitch difficult to barrel.
Presently a below-average offering and by far the weakest in his arsenal; thrown with decent depth at 79-81 mph, but it features inconsistent shape and pace; movement is more representative of a slurve than a true slider; doesn’t profile as a swing-and-miss breaking ball at maturity.
Weaver’s changeup is his best secondary offering; flashes plus potential at 78-81 mph with good arm speed and finish; lacks significant fading or sinking action, but the pitch’s velocity offers nice contrast to his fastball; likely to develop a better feel for turning over the offering as a professional.
Weaver has a strong track record of throwing strikes and is known for consistently working around the plate with his entire arsenal; above-average pitchability; present feel for sequencing and getting hitters to expand their zones.
Demonstrates advanced ability to work down in the zone with his fastball and to both sides of the plate; command will have to keep improving if 2013 fastball velocity never returns; development of secondary arsenal, especially the slider, should aid his effectiveness with fastball/changeup as well as his overall command.
MLB Player Comparison: Tim Hudson
Weaver is often compared to Giants right-hander Tim Hudson for both his frame and ability to locate a heavy fastball down in the zone. The comparison also works because both guys are proven strike throwers who work deep into starts despite a lack of overpowering, swing-and-miss stuff.
Projection: No. 3 or 4 starter
Major Leagues ETA: Late 2016
Chances of Signing: 85 percent
Weaver was viewed as a potential top-15 pick headed into his junior season, but his inconsistent performance and declining velocity this spring have caused his stock to fall in recent weeks. While it no longer appears as though he’ll receive a monster payday come June, the right-hander could still sneak into the back end of Round 1 and draw interest from teams with multiple picks.