Atlanta Braves Scouting Report on RHP Patrick Weigel
The Atlanta Braves saw Patrick Weigel explode on the prospect scene in 2016. Could he make an appearance in Atlanta in 2017?
The Atlanta Braves drafted Weigel in 2015 out of the University of Houston.
Weigel went undrafted out of high school, and he began his collegiate career at Pacific. After a season in their bullpen, he transferred to Oxnard College, where he became a 22nd round draft selection of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014.
He chose instead to go to the University of Houston and spent the season in their bullpen. He flashed enough quality stuff that the Atlanta Braves selected him in the 7th round of the 2015 draft.
The Braves skipped Weigel over low-level rookie ball and instead started Weigel out at advanced rookie Danville in the Appalachian League, where he made 14 starts, throwing 51 2/3 innings, with a 4.53 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 10.92% walk rate, and a 20.59% strikeout rate.
While a number of the college arms the Braves selected in 2015 were converted to the bullpen, and some were sent all the way up to high-A Carolina, Weigel found himself among a rotation full of elite arms in Rome in low-A to open 2016.
He was nothing short of dominant with Rome, throwing 129 innings before earning a late-season promotion to AA Mississippi for their playoff run, where he made 3 regular season starts.
Weigel on the regular season made 25 appearances, throwing 149 2/3 innings with a 2.47 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 9.11% walk rate, and 25.17% strikeout rate.
He made two postseason starts, one excellent and one disaster, for Mississippi. In total, he threw 7 2/3 innings with a 4.70 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and a 7/9 BB/K ratio.
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Size – Depending on where you read, Weigel is listed at 6’6″ and between 220 and 230 pounds. I’d say that range of weight is in the right range, though I’d not really question either end of that range. He’s build tall and athletic in his frame.
Delivery – Weigel has a pretty basic delivery, with an easy step toward first base and a leg lift to just under the numbers.
Weigel’s work with the Braves on his mechanics took him from a hard crouch into himself that really led to inconsistency in his delivery to more of just a hip and shoulder tuck toward third base to help generate force on all his pitches.
He comes out of that tuck with a long stride toward the plate and comes with a low 3/4 release point from his long arm, and that leads to some excellent hitter distraction as his long arm comes through from that position, as he doesn’t have the ball out to “sling” it from the low 3/4 slot like many guys. He keeps the ball close to his body and repeats his arm slot very well.
Control (50) – Weigel really has solid command, but he does get some excellent movement on three of his four pitches, and that does lead to his control wavering some as the ball moves out of the zone, even though he did hit where he wanted with the pitch.
Part of the adjusting his mechanics will be getting used to that change in how things move out of his hand and being able to adjust for that movement in figuring on where to throw the ball.
Fastball (65) – Weigel’s fastball is what was known about him coming out of college. He can touch triple digits in short stints and was clocked at 98-99 on the top end as a starter this season. He sits 94-95 in velocity.
With his long arms and 6’6″ height, he gets good plane on the ball, and when he puts the ball in the lower half of the zone, it’s near impossible for hitters to drive, especially with the bit of arm side run and sink that his fastball gets.
The fastball is the pitch that he really saw big progress in his location this season. It’s also the pitch in the bad playoff start that really showed to me that he was off as he simply couldn’t locate the pitch, though by then, he was over 150 innings on the season, by far his most ever.
Change Up (50) – In watching more of Weigel’s starts since my report in September, it’s more striking that he doesn’t get a ton of movement on his change, but that could be a good thing if he can spot the ball well.
He really improved the arm deception on his change this season, with the fastball and change looking alike out of the arm, but the fastball having arm side run and sink while the change stays in place. That can lead to effectiveness on the change if a batter is expecting fastball movement and the ball doesn’t move for him.
Curve Ball (55) – The curve is the pitch that made the most strides throughout the season for Weigel, but it is still the pitch that would have the most volatility from start to start.
In one start, you’d see a curve that could be called a double-plus pitch that no hitter could touch. Then the next start, the curve was hanging wherever Weigel threw it, and he couldn’t seem to get anything but very loopy break on the pitch that was easy to read for a hitter.
The curve has a 11-5 break to the pitch with a mid-70s velocity when he throws it well and sharp drop without a lot of loop on the front end of the pitch.
Slider (60) – Weigel’s slider is what his primary secondary pitch was coming out of college, and he’s shown the ability to control the pitch very well.
Coming in in the mid-80s in velocity, the unique thing about his slider is that he gets near 12-6 break on the pitch, rather than the typical break glove side that most pitchers get on the slider.
The slider is definitely Weigel’s big strikeout pitch, generating a lot of swing and miss.
MLB Player Comp
Obviously, there is plenty of work to do for Weigel on his change to get to that level as really mastering that fourth pitch is what took Scherzer into another level as a dominant starter.
For a cautionary tale of what can happen if that change never truly develops, you can go no further than one of Scherzer’s former teammates, Jordan Zimmermann.
Zimmermann is a guy who has focused on his fastball, curve, and slider primarily since coming into the league, and more and more he is leaning on the fastball and slider while using less and less of the other two, though he never really did use his change up all that much.
Along those lines, as his move has changed to more of a two-pitch pitcher in the rotation, Zimmermann has gone from a guy who was a consistent low-3 FIP pitcher, peaked with a 2.68 in 2014, and this past season, he posted a 4.42 FIP with the most two-pitch dominant mix of his career.
Of course, those outcomes are assuming Weigel makes it at all to the majors, which is no guarantee, but I do see those as logical comps if he does reach the majors as a starter.
I do believe there’s still a logical path where Weigel moves into the bullpen and is quite dominant in that role as well, so he does have more than one way he could make his way to the big leagues.
He should start 2017 in AA, and if he puts up a season like 2016, it would surprise no one if he forced the move of one of the veterans in the rotation to make room for his move into the starting 5 for the Braves.