After a small bump in the road, the season is getting off to a good start for St. Louis Cardinals prospect Luke Weaver, who was recognized as the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week.
“Definitely a nice little honor and it’s nice to come back strong and kind of get into a little groove,” said Weaver.
The 23-year old went 2-0 as he delivered 13.0 scoreless innings while giving up seven hits and striking out nine batters for the Memphis Redbirds (AAA). He issued no walks.
“I’m really there,” stated Weaver of the focus on adding to his secondary pitches beginning to pay off. “That little time off down in Jupiter just kind of gave me some extra practice in those games down there. The last two outings, the curveball’s been a very vital pitch. The cutter is moving the way I need it to.”
“They’re complimenting the other pitches very well. I’m able to mix and do those types of things, very happy where they’re at and just continue to build on them.”
The time off for Weaver was necessitated when his back locked up on him while running to second on a double in the first game of the season for Memphis. Though he shared not as severe as in Spring Training, it still resulted in a trip to the disabled list.
“All the bells and whistles,” described Weaver of how he’s tried to remedy the situation. “From exercises to rest to making sure I’m eating well–just all those different things. The combination comes to the good results I’ve got now. Staying on top of those is the big thing and making sure that all strengthens up the way it needs to, these last two outings were a good test and I’m really liking how it’s reacting. The soreness, reactions, any type of that stuff. It’s been good.”
Besides his personal streak of 13.0 scoreless innings, Memphis had their own streak as the Redbirds recently enjoyed a franchise best of 11 straight victories.
“Oh man, that was a fun ride to be a part of,” said Weaver. “I know I kind of came into it a little bit as the streak was going, but it was some great baseball. Guys were playing super well, pitching was phenomenal.”
“Everybody had that charisma about them–you try and bring that energy to the park no matter what, but just something about the streak where things would happen. Balls were falling in maybe when they normally weren’t and just those comebacks, you felt confident that you were going to scratch together something and it just seemed to work out. This was a cool little ride.”
In addition to the shutout innings by Weaver, the Memphis starting rotation put together a run of 23.0 combined scoreless frames.
“A lot of that’s just trusting the defense,” said Weaver. “A lot of ground balls and fly balls and putting the defense to work. They’ve been flawless out there and a big help to us. We know we can rely on them and not put so much pressure on us–that’s something that I’m learning as a I go. Strikeouts and stuff like that come in those types of moments, but you’ve just got to learn to pitch to contact as much as you can.”
The Memphis offense scored 83 runs in the 11-game win streak. First baseman Luke Voit is one of three Redbirds to have hit 7 home runs and leads the team with 23 RBIs.
“Just a gi-normous human being first of all,” said Weaver, who has played alongside Voit at three different levels. “The guy can just hit. He puts up the numbers every year and is as consistent as any hitter I’ve seen in our organization. He’s just continuing to do what he does. Doing a great job for himself and definitely our team. It’s fun to watch.
“He’s got a different approach–it seems like kind of a softball-style swing, but a softball-style swing that puts out home runs, obviously. But he can also hit for average, so he does a lot of things for our club.”
After making his Major League debut in August and appearing in 9 games (8 starts) with the St. Louis Cardinals last season, the expectation is that he will again contribute in some way this year. Until he gets that call, Weaver has a few things he wants to continue to work on.
“Try not to go for the strikeouts and the perfect pitches,” he shared. “Trying to be in the zone, attack it low and get those quick outs and get as deep in the game as possible. That’s what I’ve been trying these last two outings and the good results have come because of that.”
Overall, Weaver is 17-9 in his minor league career with 1.65 ERA in 41 starts.