05/17/2004 7:15 AM ET
Jered Weaver pitches like a dream
Jeff's younger brother making a name for himself
By Ben Platt / MLB.com
|Jered Weaver (left) would love face big-brother Jeff in the Majors soon. (Jon SooHoo/Dodgers)
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Jered Weaver interview
LONG BEACH -- It's more than three hours before game time at Blair Field and the young man his teammates call "Dream Weaver" is leaning behind the batting
cage, with his iPod in his ear, listening to his music and watching his fellow Dirtbags take their cuts.
An hour and a half later, Weaver, a junior at Long Beach State University, moves to
right field and quietly and methodically stretches his 6-foot-7 frame and
runs in the outfield. Pitching coach Troy Buckley comes out and plays short-toss with his pitcher and then watches Weaver warm up in the bullpen.
This is the routine the young man from Simi Valley, Calif., has developed over the past three years and it has served him well, arguably making him the best college pitcher
in the country and possibly the No. 1 pick in the First-Year Player Draft in June.
When he graduated from Simi Valley High, Weaver was generally known as Jeff Weaver's younger brother, but Jered has made a name for himself at Long Beach State, amassing statistics that make scouting directors drool. Weaver is 14-0 with a 1.27 ERA and an amazing 11-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio this season. On more than one occasion, the right-hander has struck out the first 10 batters he's faced.
Weaver also spent the summer pitching for Team USA, throwing 45 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings and posting a 0.38 ERA in seven starts.
"He's like a big leaguer playing college ball," says Oakland A's shortstop
Bobby Crosby, a Long Beach State alumnus who's friends with Weaver. "Sooner or
later he's going to be in the big leagues, maybe this year, with the type of
stuff he has and his control; it's something to watch, he's amazing."
"I think he's as close to getting to the big leagues as most guys in the
country," says Long Beach State manager Mike Weathers. "I think that's why [big-league scouts] are interested in him. I think there are a couple of other
guys around the country that might have better pure raw stuff, maybe
better fastballs, maybe better curveballs, but the whole package, I think the pro people know that they are getting a guy who's pretty close to where they
want him to be right now."
One of the advantages that Weaver has, besides his obvious physical gifts
that allow him to throw a mid-90s fastball to go with his curveball, slider and changeup, is the fact that he's been able to see firsthand all the ups and downs his
older brother Jeff has gone through pitching in the Major Leagues for the Tigers, Yankees and Dodgers.
"It's always nice to have a big-league pitcher on your side, giving you
pointers and stuff," says Jered. "He tries to give me pointers and I listen to him as much
as possible and I try to give him feedback, too, now that things are going well
"It's been nice to have Jeff around to give me some pointers, being able to
hang out with him in the clubhouses and stuff, getting a good grasp on what it's
like and we'll see what happens."
Jeff is equally proud of his younger brother.
"He's doing something we've all hoped for," says Jeff. "He's handled it
better than we've all expected and the sky's the limit. He's got all the
necessary ingredients and he's doing a good job putting them all together."
With the draft approaching, Jered has become a hot media commodity as national publications have touted him as
the probable No. 1 pick and compared him to Mark Prior, who was drafted out of USC three years ago and has already achieved big league stardom. Jered takes the
media attention in stride.
"I really don't let it bother me," says Jered. "I have one goal and that is
to stick with the Dirtbags and try to get us to [the College World Series in] Omaha. That's really what I'm concentrating on and I don't let all the hoopla
get in the way. I try to keep a level head and take it one step at a time."
As for the comparisons to Prior?
"Mark Prior is Mark Prior," says Jered. "He obviously had a great collegiate
career. To be compared with him is great, but I'm Jered Weaver and I'm trying to
create my own footsteps. I'd be honored to do what he's been doing in the big
The San Diego Padres have the first selection on June 7 and the young pitcher
from Southern California is definitely on their radar screen.
"He's a good-looking young pitcher," says Padres general manager Kevin
Towers. "I got a chance to see him at Tony Gwynn's tournament here (Weaver
struck out 15 UCLA Bruins in eight innings at the Aztec Invitational at PETCO
Park in March). He's got three solid average to above-average pitches, tremendous command, he's able to change speeds with his breaking ball, he can
turn his changeup off his fastball, very deceptive delivery, very animated on
the mound, approaches starting pitching almost like a closer.
"His numbers don't lie. He has dominating numbers, even better than Prior
when he was at USC. Everything should lead you to believe that he should be a
very successful Major League pitcher."
Whether he's the No.1 pick or not, Jered Weaver, if he stays healthy, will be
pitching in the Majors soon. If he is drafted by San Diego there will be a day
in the near future when the little brother will fulfill his biggest fantasy and
pitch against his big brother in a Major League game.
"That would be a dream come true," says Jered. "We never had a chance to play
against each other or play with each other. Seeing him across the field in
another dugout or in the same dugout would be a dream come true. It would be
When asked what it would be like to face Jered in a big league game, Jeff,
who is six years older, gave an answer that will probably please his parents.
"I think it's going to go extra innings and be left up to the bullpen."
Let's hope the Weaver family has that dilemma soon.
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. His interviews can be heard daily on MLB.com Radio. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.