This year, Luke Weaver and Harrison Bader are MLB Pipeline’s picks for the Cardinals Prospects of the Year.
After giving it their respective all’s this season, both players should be extremely proud of this accomplishment. Weaver, the 1st round selection by the Cards in 2014, advanced this year from Double-A all the way to the Majors by August. Meanwhile, Bader, a 3rd round pick in the 2015 draft, exceled at Double-A and moved up to Triple-A by July. So let’s get to know our 2016 Prospects of the Year!
College: Florida State
Drafted: 2014- Round 1
Home State: Florida
In his 3rd season in the Cardinals organization, Weaver moved from Double-A to Triple-A and finally to Busch Stadium. During the bulk of the season at Double-A Springfield, Weaver posted a 6-3 record in 12 starts, recording a remarkably low ERA and WHIP of 1.40 and 0.95, respectively. He struck out 88 in 77 innings while allowing just 10 walks. On August 5th Weaver was promoted to Triple-A Memphis for 1 decisive game that featured 6 shutout innings, 4 total base runners, 4 K’s, and the win.
After starting pitcher Michael Wacha made his way to the DL for shoulder inflammation on August 9th, Weaver was called up to help our St. Louis Cardinals fight for the playoffs. In the last month-and-a-half of the season as a Major League starter, Weaver had his ups and downs over 9 appearances— 8 of them being starts. The Cardinals ended up victorious in 3 of his first 5 starts, but Weaver finished the year with a 5.70 ERA after being rocked in his final 2 games. His success at striking batters out continued, tallying 45 K’s in just 36.1 innings, but Weaver saw 7 of his pitches leave the park for home runs.
Drafted: 2015- Round 3
Home State: New York
Bader started off this year at Double-A Springfield after tearing it up in Single A in 2015. Through July 4th, Bader was raking his way to .286/.350/.491 with 13 homeruns, 33 RBIs, and a ticket to Triple-A Memphis. For the next month Bader’s success continued at the new playing level, hitting .271/.354/.388 through August 3rd, but the following 3 weeks proved that Triple-A was too big of a jump for the 22-year-old.
His slash line dropped to .231/.298/.354 on August 26th, and he was brought back down to Double-A Springfield for the final 10 games of the season. Back in Springfield, Bader continued his success, smashing 3 homeruns and racking up 7 RBIs in his final 4 games of 2016, while helping the Springfield Cardinals clinch first place in Double-A Texas League North.
So What’s Next for these Top Prospects?
After proving that the minor leagues were no match in the 2016 season, Luke Weaver will be looking forward to getting another opportunity to prove himself in the Majors. Although it is not yet decided, it is probable that Weaver starts his year back in Triple-A. But if he is able to replicate this year’s performance, it’ll be difficult for the Cardinals to keep him down there for long.
As for Harrison Bader, proving that he can compete for an extended period at the Triple-A level will be key to determining when he will be called up to the Cardinals. He performed well at Double-A all year and for half of his time at Triple-A, so during the 2017 season we will see if he can keep things up.
So let’s give one more round of applause for our 2016 Cardinals Prospects of the Year! Let’s hope they enjoy their much earned off-season and can replicate their performances in 2017.