First-round Draft pick Weaver signs with Cardinals
Florida State right-hander always dreamed of playing in the Majors for St. Louis
ST. LOUIS -- Mark Weaver admits he doesn't get choked up easily, but there was no way of holding back as his son signed on the dotted line at Busch Stadium.
When Mark coached his son, Luke, growing up, he would sometimes pose a question: What team would he want to play for if he could play in the Major Leagues?
"It was generally always the Cardinals," Mark recalls.
That dream became reality when the Cardinals used the 27th pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft to select Luke Weaver out of Florida State. It reached a culmination Monday, when Weaver signed with the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, officially joining the organization.
Weaver, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound right-handed pitcher who went 8-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 16 starts for the Seminoles this past season, signed for the assigned slot value of $1.843 million, MLB.com confirmed.
"It was just a great moment," Weaver said from the Cardinals' dugout. "One I'll always remember."
Weaver burst onto the scene at Florida State his sophomore year. He made 15 starts (17 appearances) and went 7-2 with a 2.29 ERA in 98 1/3 innings while striking out 119 hitters, ranked 11th nationally.
He was named Most Outstanding Player in the Tallahassee Regional that season after throwing a career-high eight innings and striking out a career-high 14 hitters.
This season as a junior, Weaver tossed 106 1/3 innings in his 16 starts, striking out 85 hitters. That workload will impact Weaver's plan as he heads to the Cardinals' Gulf Coast League team in Jupiter, Fla., on Wednesday.
"After coming off a season where I threw a lot of innings and am pretty fatigued, this little short boost of energy has helped getting the arm back to where it needs to be," Weaver said. "The goal is to just maintain everything and just go up from there to become stronger and keep the arm conditioned."
Weaver and Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, who share the same adviser, could follow similar plans. Wacha, the team's first selection in the 2012 Draft, had thrown 113 1/3 innings at Texas A&M before joining the Cardinals' organization shortly after he was selected.
Wacha threw only 21 innings in pro ball the summer after he signed -- out of the bullpen rather than as a starter -- but progressed through three levels moving from Rookie ball to Class A Advanced Palm Beach and ultimately Double-A Springfield by the end of his first season.
"Sending me down to Jupiter, we have expectations knowing that I've thrown a lot and am going to take it easy," Weaver said. "I think there's a similar thing with Wacha, he threw a lot of innings. We're kind of going with the same trend there, a couple innings here and there and work more to get stronger and stay healthy."
Weaver will also likely pitch out of the bullpen his first season, but Cardinals scouting director Dan Kantrovitz said the team would err on the side of caution as it begins to map out the right-hander's coming months.
"He's going to go to the GCL and just get his feet wet, and he'll probably throw a couple innings here or there," Kantrovitz said. "Once we determine an innings cap, I'd be surprised if he goes the whole summer before being shut down."
Despite touching 96 mph, the Cardinals consistently clocked Weaver's fastball between 89-92 mph while scouting him. The team was also impressed with his changeup, in a similar fashion as it was with Wacha's out of college.
Wacha, who was with the Cardinals in the Majors just one year after getting selected, has provided motivation.
"Seeing Wacha and some of these other players go through, it's a big inspiration is the only word I can think of," Mark Weaver said. "I just hope Luke can be the same. I would love to see him play out here in short fashion. I think he'll do it, too. I think he's going to be right there with them."
Wacha stopped into the dugout before Monday's game to congratulate Weaver and shake his hand.
"Take it easy and have fun," Wacha told him.
Weaver was selected in the 19th round of the 2011 Draft by the Blue Jays, but elected instead to attend Florida State for the past three years.
That move paid off financially and for his dream. Mark's father and grandmother grew up in St. Louis, and so Luke would often name the Cardinals when asked who he wanted to play for. With his contract signed, he'll now get that opportunity.
"It's the best day of my life. I had goosebumps," Mark said. "As a father, it's the greatest day of your life. I've got three sons, and I love each one of them equally, but I'm very proud of Luke."
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.