Pitcher Luke Weaver called himself an "avid bird-watcher" Thursday night. He should fit in fine with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals selected Weaver, a junior right-hander from Florida State, with their 27th overall pick in the amateur draft. He was 8-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 16 starts for the Seminoles, with 23 walks and 85 strikeouts in 106 1/3 innings.
"Believe it or not, this is the team that was No. 1 in my book," Weaver said in a conference call. "I was sitting there dreaming for it to happen, and it happening is just a dream come true. My heart dropped to the ground; I was so pumped and excited. It was something I'll never, ever forget."
Weaver said bird-watching is "in the bloodline."
"It's something that's come natural," he said. "Being an outdoorsman, (going to the Cardinals) just felt right."
Weaver is only 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, undersized for a pitcher. His fastball has touched 97 mph this spring, but scouting reports have suggested it typically is around 92.
A slider and changeup also are a part of Weaver's repertoire. Weaver, a native of Deland, Fla., was 7-2 with a 2.29 ERA in 98 1/3 innings as a sophomore.
"I just try to go in there and pound the (strike) zone and fill up the strike zone," Weaver said. "I try to get guys to ground out, fly out, make some contact and let the defense work early (in the count). If I get two strikes, that's when I start to get into strikeout mode and try to make some good pitches.
"I love my fastball and I love swooping it in there and trying to strike people out on that. My changeup is something that's always been there for me. I'm loving the improvements every day from it, but the slider is something I've been really working on and it's going to come around real shortly."
Weaver said he attempts to pattern his game after Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke.
"Greinke can swing the bat a little bit," Weaver said. "That's something I take a lot of pride in. When we have pitcher's BP, I try to go yard and split the gaps."
The slot value for the 27th pick is $1.843 million. Weaver's advisor is CAA Baseball, which also represents Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, a first-round pick from Texas A&M in 2012.
"He's become an all-around polished pitcher," Weaver said. "That's something I hope to be. I'll try to keep on that same journey he's gone on. I'll follow in the footsteps and try to make some of my own."
Weaver, whose Twitter handle is @DreamWeava7, was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 19th round of the 2011 draft, but he decided to honor his commitment to Florida State.
It was at Florida State that Weaver met outfielder James Ramsey, another first-round pick of the Cardinals in 2012 who is playing this season at Class AA Springfield.
"He sent me a text and was so pumped for me," Weaver said. "He was a great teammate. With him being a senior and me being a freshman, he was a really great guy to have at FSU."
With their compensatory pick at No. 34, awarded for the departure of free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran to the New York Yankees, the Cardinals selected another right-handed pitcher, Jack Flaherty of Harvard-Westlake High in Studio City, Calif.
"I'm incredibly excited," Flaherty said of being chosen in the first round. "It made it even better that it was by the Cardinals. Unbelievable organization, great city, great fans. When my name was called, I was kind of shocked. But it's nothing but excitement."
Flaherty, whose fastball has reached 93 mph, was 10-0 with a 0.63 ERA after going 13-0 as a junior. He allowed 32 hits in 78 innings, with 12 and 125 strikeouts. Flaherty, also a third baseman at Harvard-Westlake, complements his fastball with a plus changeup, slider and curveball.
The 6-3, 217-pound Flaherty, 18, a native of Burbank, Calif., has signed with North Carolina. The Cardinals could have difficulty coming to terms with Flaherty, who reportedly is seeking $2.5 million. The slot value for the 34th pick is $1,650,400.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity," Flaherty reiterated. "I'm just hoping we can work something out."
Flaherty said he and his family plan to discuss financial considerations during the coming weeks.
"We haven't even gotten that far right now," Flaherty said. "Everything's going crazy right now since I got picked. We're trying to take it all in. It's just all hectic right now."
In the second round, the Cardinals chose right-handed pitcher Ronnie Williams, of American High School in Hialeah, Fla., with their 68th pick. He has signed with Florida A&M.
With their final pick Thursday, No. 71 overall, the Cardinals selected right-handed pitcher Andrew Morales of UC-Irvine. Morales is 10-2 with a 1.64 ERA this season and is 40-3 in his college career, which began at Rio Hondo College.
The draft continues Friday with Rounds 3 through 10.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.