09/28/09 11:00 AM EST
Path of the Pros: Jered Weaver
Weaver's meteoric rise was capped by Triple-A dominance
By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com
Weaver, the No. 12 overall pick in the 2004 Draft, blew through the Angels farm system before making his Major League debut on May 27, 2006 ... just 361 days after signing with the club. He then went on to win his first nine Major League decisions, tying Ford's 56-year-old record for most consecutive victories at the start of a career.
Throughout his brief Minor League career, Weaver showed signs that he could develop into one of the top arms in the Majors. In 2005, his first professional season, he went 7-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 15 starts between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Arkansas.
It's fairly common for prospects to struggle in their first exposure to Triple-A ball, but the 23-year-old Weaver dominated the Pacific Coast League almost immediately, posting a 6-1 record with a 2.10 ERA in 12 games for the Bees. He also threw 28 straight scoreless innings at one point, and his 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings would have led the PCL had he pitched enough to qualify.
Weaver's performance was no shock to his teammate, Jeff Mathis, who first caught for Weaver in 2007 and has been behind the plate for more of Weaver's starts than any other Angels catcher.
"He had the stuff, and he had the command that was required to be able to pitch at Triple-A, so it wasn't a big surprise," Mathis said.
Despite a dominant Major League debut, Weaver's stay in the Majors was to be brief. When 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon was ready to return to the rotation after a stint on the disabled list, the Angels elected to make room on the roster by sending the young Weaver back to Triple-A. He'd posted a 4-0 record and a 1.35 ERA in four big-league starts, and it was clear he'd be back before long.
The demotion served as motivation for the California native, as he went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA after returning to the Bees. He set a Salt Lake single-game record by striking out 14 Sacramento hitters on June 23, and followed that up with an 11-strikeout performance in his final start on June 28.
"When he was sent down, it wasn't because he was pitching bad, which is frustrating. He was even more determined than he was before, and that's one of the reasons he's there today," said Mathis, who caught Weaver's record-setting performance.
On June 30, the Angels recalled Jered Weaver, after designating older brother Jeff for assignment.
Weaver continued right where he left off and didn't lose until Aug. 24, when he allowed one run on four hits in six innings against Boston. He ended the year 11-2 with a 2.56 ERA and finished fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Weaver has taken the hill at the Major League level 89 times since 2007, more than any other Angels pitcher. He won his 50th game on Sept. 9 of this year, reaching that mark with fewer losses (24) than any pitcher in Angels history.
"His biggest thing is letting his emotions go. When some bad break happens, he's been able to let frustrations not get to him and get to the next pitch," said Mathis.
Weaver pitched in just 27 games in the Minors before reaching the Majors for good. Along the way, he struck out 188 batters in 153 innings, and was 13-5 with a 3.00 ERA.
2005: Weaver began the year with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and progressed slowly. He didn't pick up his first win until his fourth start, but won three straight after that and was promoted to Double-A Arkansas in late July, where he went 3-3 with a 3.98 ERA.
2006: Weaver wasted no time at Triple-A Salt Lake, dominating hitters by throwing 28 consecutive scoreless innings at one point. Before joining the Angels for good on June 30, Weaver set a Bees single-game record with 14 strikeouts in a complete-game shutout of Sacramento.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.