When Luke Weaver was injured in March 2016, he was out of action until June. So missing the bulk of April this year? Not such a big deal."It's tough," the third-ranked Cardinals prospect said, "[but] it's something I dealt with last year with breaking my wrist and that whole process.
When Luke Weaver was injured in March 2016, he was out of action until June. So missing the bulk of April this year? Not such a big deal.
"It's tough," the third-ranked Cardinals prospect said, "[but] it's something I dealt with last year with breaking my wrist and that whole process. That was more of an uphill battle. Learning from that process and applying it to this one, that made it a little easier."
In his first start since exiting his Opening Day assignment after two innings, the 23-year-old right-hander allowed three hits and struck out five over six scoreless frames Tuesday in Triple-A Memphis' 2-1 win at Omaha, the Redbirds' fifth straight victory.
"I felt really good. It was one of those days where you're throwing the ball and everything is working," he said after facing one batter over the minimum. "I had my command and I was getting quick outs and letting the defense do the work.
"I definitely missed being out there. It's a little bit of grinding, to push through injuries, and you're hoping to get back out there and make impression as soon as possible. You do the best you can, and I'm glad it worked out the way it did."
Weaver, who reached the Majors by mid-August last season, spent much of the last month back at St. Louis' facilities in Jupiter, Florida, recovering from lower back stiffness.
"By the time I got down there, I felt good. It was just about throwing and building my arm back up there until I was ready to get back out there and get a pitch count high enough to throw five efficient innings," he said.
Two of the three hits allowed by MLB.com's No. 61 overall prospect came in the first inning as Raul Mondesi and Jorge Soler delivered back-to-back one-out singles. But Soler's knock produced an out as the batted ball struck Mondesi making his way to second.
"I didn't feel like I was scuffling. I felt good," Weaver said. "Sometimes [ground balls] find a hole and [Soler's hit] was just kind of a crazy play, hitting the runner."
The 2014 first-round pick got another grounder to end the inning and kept rolling. Of the 18 outs he recorded, 11 came via strikeouts or ground balls. When Royals No. 29 prospect Cam Gallagher lined a third-inning single, that also resulted in an out as center fielder fifth-ranked Cards prospect Harrison Bader threw him out trying to stretch it into a double.
After that, the Florida State product retired 11 in a row.
"I think once you get past the first inning when the adrenaline is pumping the most," he said, "you get to the dugout and get your breath and get back out there -- especially when you get a clean inning -- you can get into the groove pitchers all try to find and you ride that train as long as possible."
Weaver threw 47 of 63 pitches for strikes and felt satisfied with his first outing of more than a couple innings this season.
"I knew the situation. I knew I wasn't trying to push anything," he said. "The goal with the pitch count was to go at least five innings, and in my head I was kind of joking to myself, 'Well, I'm going to try to get the sixth.' And that turned out to be what I did."
Mark Montgomery followed Weaver with two scoreless innings. Zach Phillips was charged with a run in the ninth, but Josh Lucas recorded the final three outs for his second save.
Luke Voit was 3-for-4 and hit his sixth homer for the Redbirds.
Royals No. 5 prospect Jake Junis (1-2) gave up one run on five hits and three walks over seven innings. He struck out six.
Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB.