06/07/2004 2:21 PM ET
Weaver falls into Angels' lap
Signability factor drops touted pitcher to No. 12 in draft
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
|Negotiations between the Angels and Jered Weaver are taking "baby steps." (Jose Sanchez/AP)
ANAHEIM -- The Arte Moreno era has been full of surprises for the Angels, and it continued in the First-Year Player Draft on Monday.
The Angels needed to make a statement with their first-round pick, at No. 12, because they lost two picks in compensation for free-agent signings and didn't have another pick until No. 113 in the fourth round.
Little did they know that the player many people projected as the No. 1 pick in the whole draft would be available.
Jered Weaver, the 21-year-old Long Beach State right-hander with the Major League bloodlines (his brother, Jeff, starts for the Dodgers), was expected to be selected by the San Diego Padres first overall until the buzz cooled a bit over the weekend because of concerns over his signability.
Weaver will be represented by Scott Boras, the Orange County-based agent who also negotiated Alex Rodriguez's landmark 10-year, $252 million contract with Texas before the 2001 season.
Long Beach State
Position: RHP B/T: R/R
H: 6-7 W: 205
Born: 1982-10-04 Class: SR
VERY TALL, LEAN, WIRY PHYSIQUE. LONG, LOOSE, SINEWY MUSCLES. SQUARE SHOULDERS. LONG ARMS, LEGS. THIN HIPS, WAIST . RM TO CARRY MORE WEIGHT. BUILT SIMILAR TO BROTHER JEFF WEAVER. NO WINDUP, 3/4 ARM. SIDE STEP TO START. BIG HIP, SHOULDER TURN. FLASHES PLUS FB, MOST 90-91, SOME TAIL, SINK WHEN DOWN. DECEPTIVE DELIVERY, TURNS BACK TO HITTER, TOUGH TO PICK UP PITCHES. SPOTS ML SLIDER. GOOD MOTION ON SINKING CHANGEUP. PLUS CONTROL. TOUGH COMPETITOR WHO PITCHES W/ CONFIDENCE. HAS THE SIZE, MAKEUP, & PITCHES FOR A FRONTLINE ML STARTER.
It didn't seem to matter to Moreno's Angels, who snapped up Weaver and got a player many believe is close to Major League-ready.
Weaver, speaking from his home in nearby Simi Valley, Calif., said he had no idea that he would be going to the Angels and "almost jumped through the roof" when he heard the news.
"It's going to be sweet playing in my back yard and having my friends and family there," he said.
Weaver, who is 6-foot-7 and weighs 210 pounds, has dominated the college ranks all year, striking out the first 10 batters in a game twice and keeping an outrageous strikeout-to-walk ratio of close to 11-1 all year. He is 15-1 with a 1.65 ERA.
He has what scouts consider to be three above-average pitches -- fastball, curve and changeup -- and Major League control of them. He works at about 91-92 mph and can top out at 94-95.
Angels scouting director Eddie Bane said the team had done its homework on Weaver and was prepared to do what it had to do to get him if he was available at No. 12.
"He's got much better command than most every amateur pitcher you're going to see," Bane said. "He can pitch on both sides of the plate. He has a presence on the mound. He likes to have fun. Things don't bother him on the mound. Plus he has a brother in the big leagues, and we like those bloodlines a lot. They have very similar deliveries. There's a lot of things to like."
Bane said Angels general manager Bill Stoneman has already gotten "the ball rolling" with Boras, although the Angels can't sign Weaver until his college career is done. Right now, Weaver is preparing for the NCAA super-regional and hoping to advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
"The Weaver family was steadfast about what they were looking for," Boras added. "What premium college players were looking for."
Many news outlets reported that Boras was looking for Mark Prior-type money for Weaver. In fact, Prior's junior-year numbers at the University of Southern California (15-1, 1.69 ERA) were almost identical to Weaver's as of draft day.
Prior signed with the Chicago Cubs for a total of $10.5 million, which included a signing bonus in the $2 million-3 million range and a Major League contract, meaning Prior was immediately placed on the team's 40-man roster.
Sensing this and hearing what Weaver referred to as "rumors" that his camp was looking for similar numbers, the Padres and 11 other teams balked.
And San Diego general manager Kevin Towers didn't pull punches when asked why he didn't select Weaver or highly touted shortstop Stephen Drew of Florida State.
"We just didn't feel that Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver were worth the amount that Scott Boras was going to ask for them," Towers told XPRS, the Padres' flagship radio station.
Weaver admitted that his association with Boras probably led to his falling to No. 12, but that it wasn't a concern.
"I figured that the money deal maybe scared them off," Weaver said. "It was always in the back of my mind that in picking Scott, something would happen. But I trust him. He's the best in the business. I've known him far too long."
Weaver said he wasn't disappointed at all to fall to No. 12.
"Any first-rounder is excited to be in the first round," Weaver said. "I never really cared about going Number 1 or Number 2 or anything like that. I just wanted to go play baseball."
Weaver will likely get the chance to do that soon, and it could lead to the Majors within the next year or two, according to Bane, who said starting at Double-A wouldn't be unrealistic for Weaver.
"With his command, as long as he can adapt to every five days and get hit around a little bit, which happens to every pitcher at that level, it should be a quick route," Bane said.
Bane, in his first year as Angels scouting director, said he now has the best of both worlds as he waits for Stoneman and Boras to work out a deal.
"I got to pick the guy I wanted," Bane said.
"Now Bill can take care of the rest of it."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.