Right-hander Luke Weaver was recalled from Class AAA Memphis on Monday by the St. Louis Cardinals, who optioned reliever Mike Mayers to Triple-A.
Weaver, 23, was the Cardinals’ first-round pick (27th overall) in the 2014 draft. The Florida State product was 1-4 with a 5.70 ERA in nine games, including eight starts, and 36 1/3 innings last season.
Weaver is among the organization’s top pitching prospects, along with Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty, Sandy Alcantara and Dakota Hudson.
Weaver was 7-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 11 games at Memphis, all starts, walking 19, striking out 60 and allowing just three home runs in 56 innings.
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“I’ve been waiting for the opportunity, just being patient and trying to do my part down to improve and fine-tune my skills,” Weaver said before the Cardinals’ game Monday against the Miami Marlins. “And when called upon, try to do some successful stuff here. Whatever they need, I’m going to do. I’ll be available for whatever.”
Weaver threw a scoreless sixth in relief of Adam Wainwright.
The Cardinals will use Weaver out of the bullpen, and manager Mike Matheny made it clear that Weaver won’t be allowed to become rusty from lack of work.
“He’ll be in the pen and we’re going to give him a chance, just like everybody else down there,” Matheny said. “We’ll have an opportunity to see where we can fit him in.
“Part of the conversation is we don’t want to take him out of the Triple-A rotation to have him just sit down there and be an emergency backup guy. I plan on pitching him and throwing him into situations where we feel he’ll help us out. (We’ll) kind of see how it plays out once he gets his opportunities.”
Matheny said Weaver has all that is required to succeed at a high level.
“He’s got a great fastball,” Matheny said. “He’s got good movement. He’s got good velocity. He stays in the bottom of the zone. The troubles that he’s had in the past here is really just picking too much, where he didn’t trust his stuff and was trying to be so fine and perfect every pitch that he was all of a sudden working really deep in tough counts. Mistakes, a lot of times, follow that.
“It’s part of the progression of a young player and a young pitcher. It’s: ‘Trust your stuff. Your stuff is good. Jump in there and attack the strike zone. Trust your defense.’ His stuff should play here as well as anywhere else.”
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Weaver was recently named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team. He was the PCL Pitcher of the Month in May when he went 5-1 with a 2.19 ERA in six starts. Weaver will wear No. 62.
Mayers was 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two games and four innings since his recall from Memphis on June 25.
Mayers pitched three mopup innings in the Cardinals’ 7-2 loss to the Washington Nationals on Sunday, which precipitated the promotion of Weaver.
“It made sense to make a move,” Cardinals General Manager Mike Girsch said. “We had talked about bringing (Weaver) up. He earned a chance.”
Girsch said there is no “intent” to use Weaver in the rotation.
“Is it possible? Sure, but that’s not the plan,” Girsch said.
Center fielder Dexter Fowler, on the disabled list with a right heel spur, is trying to resume baseball activities in his cleats without the injury flaring.
It isn’t an easy transition. For now, Fowler can only wear tennis shoes.
“We’re trying to follow the lead of our medical team,” Matheny said. “They’re happy with some of the progression. They’re trying to get him into spikes. It’s a big deal to where the spikes aren’t hurting the heel. Overall, it sounds like things are moving in a positive direction. There’s still a lot to be done to get back into game shape, game speed.”
Girsch said he is hopeful Fowler could return before the All-Star break starts Sunday night, but Fowler hasn’t played since June 24, so it doesn’t seem to be a likely scenario.
The Cardinals on Monday signed 10 free agents on the second day of the international signing period. The players, seven of them being 16 years old, come from the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela.
Players signed were: outfielder Adanson Cruz, 16; right-hander Jesus Cruz, 22; center fielder Joerlin De Los Santos, 16; shortstop Darlyn Del Villar, 16; shortstop Sander Mora, 16; catcher Jesus Orecchia, 16; outfielder Leudy Pena, 16; outfielder Gustavo Rodriguez, 17; catcher Luis Rodriguez, 17; and catcher Jose Zapata, 16.
All of the players passed their physicals and the required background checks.
David Wilhelm: @DavidMWilhelm