Since the draft, Weaver has been even more remarkable, holding a 2.12 ERA over the course of two seasons of pro ball, including a stunning 1.62 ERA in 2015.
For his efforts this past season, Weaver was chosen to participate in the Arizona Fall League where he continued to work towards being the caliber of pitcher that he’s capable of becoming.
Many believe it won’t be all that long before Weaver makes it to the majors. With the stats he’s posted, it would seem that Weaver is certainly poised to be on the fast track. He holds a good fastball and a changeup that many scouts marvel at, as well as a slider that he’s been working on. If Weaver can continue to put it all together, he should be pitching for St. Louis before all is said and done.
Luke Weaver — top prospect in the Cardinals’ organization — took the time recently to answer some of my questions:
1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?
I want to say around 5 years old. Those memories are a little blurring. My biggest influence was my dad. He was always there no matter what and spent countless hours helping me get better. It didn’t matter what he had going on, he would always make time for me.
2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?
I can’t say I ever had one die-hard favorite player. I always enjoyed watching a bunch of players. If I had to say one it would be Juan Pierre. I loved watching him use his speed to make things happen. He’s a low key guy, who is a Christ follower and went about his business the right way. He’s very involved in the community, and is a great role model all the way around.
3.) Back in your college days at FSU, you had the opportunity to pitch for the 2013 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. What was the overall experience of that like? What did you take away from playing with some of the best college talent from around the country?
That experience was amazing. It was such an honor, not only getting to play with some of the best collegiate players out there but to wear the country’s colors. I took a lot away from it. Being able to pick their brains about all kinds of things was really insightful. Getting to mesh with the fun personalities was a blast as well.
4.) You were drafted by the Cardinals in the 1st round of the 2014 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?
That process was exciting but also nerve racking. Not knowing what the future had planned was a moment where I had to rely on God and trust in His plan. It meant a lot that I was able to have my family, fiancé, her family and friends join me in that moment. My thoughts were thoughtless. It was such a surreal moment where reality vanishes for a short period a time and I’m thinking, “Did that just happen?”. Just an awesome night!
5.) Although you can still crank it up when needed, your fastball has seen an overall drop from consistent mid-90’s in early college to lower 90’s now in the minors. How (if at all) has that decrease in velocity impacted your approach when going after hitters?
When you get into professional baseball you learn that it doesn’t matter how hard you throw. There are so many guys who have electric arms, so for hitters it’s nothing they haven’t seen before. I went through a time frame where my velocity dropped due to fatigue from a long season. It’s all back now, but it is something I’ve been working on to see where I am comfortable pitching at; where I can be consistently efficient and have full command of all my pitches. It’s all part of the process to be the best pitcher I can be.
6.) You were selected to participate in the 2015 Arizona Fall League. What type of things did you work on out there to improve as a pitcher moving forward?
I worked on a couple of things. First off trying to get these hitters out. They are super advanced and they make hitting seem like it’s the easier thing out of the two. I’m always trying to work on command, but mainly staying at the bottom of the strike zone. I also worked on a slider that is coming along very nicely and will be a huge boost too for me.
7.) Is there any one stat that you pay attention to throughout the season? Or do you try to steer clear of them altogether?
Definitely try to steer clear, but if there is one stat that I try to stay attentive to it is walks. Nothing drives me more crazy than walking people.
8.) What do you feel went well in 2015? What are your goals for 2016?
I think throwing a lot of strikes and keeping the walks down was a huge part of it. Good things tend to happen when you can stay on top of those two things. I’ve spent a lot of time in bullpens and just playing catch to repeat my mechanics. The more comfortable and less I have to think about those things, the more I can concentrate on throwing it over the plate. [Goals for 2016 are] to continue to glorify God and the platform He has given. None of this is possible without Him. Keep growing as a pitcher and to learn some more as I go. Simple as that. Never a time when you can’t learn something and get better.
9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?
Big ‘Modern Family’ guy, but more of a variety than a particular one. [For food] I would go anything Asian. They got the good figured out.
10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?
My advice to them is to have as much fun as possible but make sure you’re working hard along the way. Practice doesn’t make you perfect, it makes you better. Believe in yourself and remember to give God the Glory no matter what.
Big thanks to Luke Weaver for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow him on Twitter: @DreamWeava7