Baseball BeatApril 04, 2004
Rich's Weaver Baseball BEAT Continues
By Rich Lederer

Jered Weaver won his ninth consecutive game, striking out 11 over eight innings as the visiting Long Beach State 49ers defeated the Cal State Fullerton Titans, 6-2, in a non-conference matchup Friday evening.

Weaver, after falling behind 2-0 in the third, retired 16 of the final 18 batters he faced. It was the first time this season that the junior righthander had either trailed during the course of the game or allowed more than one run. (Box Score).

The All-American, who had his scoreless streak halted at 23 1/3 innings, struck out double digits for the seventh time out of nine starts this season. Weaver now has an even 100 strikeouts vs. only nine walks.

Weaver vs. CSUF:

            IP  H   R   ER  BB  K
Weaver      8   7   2   2   1   11

Season Totals:

           IP     H    R   ER   BB   K    ERA    W-L
Weaver     64.2   29   6   6    9    100  0.84   9-0

What They're Saying About Weaver

  • Lou Pavlovich, editor of Collegiate Baseball:

    "Since 1974, I have been covering college baseball for Collegiate Baseball newspaper. There have been some fabulous pitchers who have participated in college baseball since that time, such as Roger Clemens of Texas, USC's Randy Johnson and Mark Prior, as well as numerous others. But I can't remember any who has had the season Jered Weaver is putting together. He is the only college pitcher to be named Louisville Slugger's National Pitcher of The Week four times (he now has five). What he has done is absolutely amazing."

  • Long Beach State Coach Mike Weathers, in an interview with columnist Doug Krikorian of the (Long Beach) Press-Telegram:

    "Jered is doing things I've never seen before in college ball, and I've been around a while. I've never seen a guy start a game striking out the first 10 batters he faced, as that's what Jered did in a game against USC. For sure, I never thought I'd see it again. And then Jered comes back and does it again against Brigham Young. He's just been phenomenal."

  • Tony Gwynn, who is in his second year as head coach at San Diego State, told Gordon Verrell of the Press-Telegram after watching Weaver at Petco Park last month:

    "He's something, that's for sure. I know the Padres are interested."

  • Cal State Fullerton Coach George Horton was quoted by Verrell prior to Friday night's outing:

    "He was already a great pitcher and now ... well, now he's unbelievable."

    Eric Stephens, a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, recently quoted four prominent college coaches in Absolute Power.

  • USC Coach Mike Gillespie, whose Trojan ballclub was on the wrong end of a 14-strikeout, two-hit, one-run effort in February:

    "He was sensational. What was unbelievable was that he was that good that early in the year."

  • UCLA Coach Gary Adams after witnessing a 15-strikeout, one-hit, eight-inning shutout in March:

    "Two words. Awesome and phenomenal. You had the GM there and all the scouts, and he got up for it. Didn't faze him."

  • Wichita State's Gene Stephenson, who coached current Dodger Darren Dreifort, said Weaver's 16-strikeout effort in only six innings last month was the most dominating performance against his team in 27 years with the Shockers.

    "There was nothing we could do. He could have struck out 25 if they had left him in there."

  • South Carolina Coach Ray Tanner, who managed Weaver and Team USA to a silver medal in the Pan American Games last summer:

    "If you put him in a big-league game tomorrow, I think he could handle himself pretty well. His stay in the minors will be very short."

  • Baseball America editor-in-chief Allan Simpson, 2004 Draft/College Midseason Update:

    "He's the top player on our list," said Padres general manager Kevin Towers, whose team has the No. 1 pick this year. "He's the only guy Chief (Padres scouting director Bill Gayton) has told me to lock in on so far."

    Weaver has been so dominant that Towers believes he could step into the big leagues straight from the draft, something that hasn't occurred since Ben McDonald, the No. 1 overall pick in 1989, did so with the Orioles.

    "He could hold his own right now, he's that good," Towers said. "He's been exposed to good competition, both at Long Beach State and internationally. He's a strike thrower, he changes speeds well, he's got good deception and he can get his fastball up to 93-94 mph. But it's a lot to ask because all eyes would be on him, especially the media and his fellow players. The expectations would be so high.

    "It wouldn't hurt for him to get in a few innings in the minor leagues first, like Prior did, to acclimate himself to wood bats and the professional environment. Plus, he would earn his stripes with his peers by proving himself in the minors first."

    Weaver's pitching style is similar to his older brother Jeff, a 1998 first-round pick of the Tigers who is now with the Dodgers.

    "Their body types are very similar, and they've both got the same three-quarters arm slots," Towers said. "They're both very intense, very animated. But where Jeff was slider-happy and has tended to live off his slider, Jered uses his whole repertoire more and has better command."

    "We're still going to cover all our bases by seeing the Rice pitchers and Justin Verlander," Towers said, "but barring injury, it's going to be pretty hard for anyone to jump over Weaver."

    Any debate on Weaver vs. Verlander will center on a pitcher with a higher upside (Verlander) against one who is much more polished and should reach the majors sooner (Weaver).

    "Verlander's definitely got better pure stuff than Weaver," an AL scouting director said. "He has better arm strength and a better power breaking ball. But Weaver's got the whole package. He's got better pitchability and a better third pitch. He's more of a sure bet."

  • Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis in a chat on March 25:

    The Padres, who pick No. 1 overall, already are zeroing in on Weaver. Petco Park, the Padres' new home, was christened with a college tournament, and San Diego GM Kevin Towers was on hand to watch Weaver fan 15 while one-hitting UCLA for eight innings. In a previous Baseball America story, Towers couldn't contain his enthusiasm about Weaver.

    Towers said that barring injury, it will hard for anyone to move past Weaver on the Padres' draft board. He also said that only Mark Prior has dominated college hitters as much as Weaver in recent memory, and that Weaver could go straight from Long Beach State to the majors.

    Teams never talk about prospective draftees in this manner, at least not on the record, because they fear their comments will come back to haunt them in negotiations. I'm sure Towers believes what he said, because I can't figure out any ulterior motive he'd have for driving Weaver's price up for some other club. But I also can't discern why he'd want to give Weaver's adviser any extra ammunition, especially when that adviser is Scott Boras. San Diego can start drafting a big league contract right now.

    Weaver is very good, but his numbers are so unfathomable that I think he's getting overrated by the general public. I'd project him as more of a No. 2 starter than as a classic No. 1, and he's not the next Mark Prior. Both his fastball and breaking ball are a half-grade or full grade behind where Prior's were when he came out of Southern California. Weaver throws an 88-94 mph fastball with lots of life, but his low three-quarters arm slot has led to debate about how much of weapon his slider will be against big league lefthanders. Weaver's fastball would rate a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale, with his slider and changeup 50 pitches. His command is so good that his stuff plays better than its raw grades.