CINCINNATI -- The Triple-A Memphis rotation will soon boast the Cardinals' top two pitching prospects, as right-hander Luke Weaver is set to be promoted before his next start, general manager John Mozeliak confirmed on Wednesday. Weaver ranks second on the Cardinals' MLB Pipeline prospect list behind Alex Reyes, who has been with Memphis since coming back from a suspension in May.
Reyes has drawn more attention this season, but it's Weaver who is putting together better results. The command and efficiency issues that have plagued Reyes have been a non-issue for Weaver, the team's first-round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. Since missing the first two months of the season while allowing a left wrist injury to heal, Weaver is 6-3 with a 1.40 ERA in 12 Double-A starts.
He's struck out 88 and walked 10 in 77 innings. In contrast, Reyes has issued 30 walks and struck out 85 in 59 1/3 innings. Weaver has averaged more than six innings a start; Reyes has averaged fewer than five. And while Weaver has thrown an average of 14.6 pitches per inning, Reyes has an average of five higher than that per frame.
Reyes' command issues have left the Cardinals lukewarm about a potential promotion. In fact, Weaver may have passed Reyes on the depth chart should the Cardinals need help in the rotation or 'pen sometime soon.
"I feel like when you talk about command of the strike zone, he's certainly someone who has shown he can do that," Mozeliak said of Weaver. "I feel like there is a comfort level just internally from my standpoint that if we did feel like we needed help from down below, either in a long role or in a bullpen role, that he would be someone we would have confidence in. When you think about him, too, in a shorter role, I think you would see a little bit more velocity because he is someone who, when he needs it, could be that 94-95 [mph] guy."
Weaver's final Double-A start came on Tuesday, and he limited Tulsa to two runs on six hits in seven innings. He struck out nine, walked one and threw 96 pitches.
In contrast, Reyes, who last pitched on Monday, trudged through 4 1/3 innings on 99 pitches. He allowed four runs, six hits, walked three and struck out six. Mozeliak said he wouldn't "rule anything out" regarding a potential promotion for Reyes later this season, but the command issues are a concern, even if Reyes' ceiling remains high.
"He's still having a hard time getting through five," Mozeliak said. "If you think it's tough pitching down there, imagine pitching up here. When you try to calibrate what's happening down there to here, it's a little bit of a stretch. I feel like the reports on him are continuing to be positive, but there are still adjustments that have to be made."
The Cardinals bypassed both pitchers while making a roster move on Wednesday as Dean Kiekhefer was recalled to take injured Tyler Lyons' place in the bullpen. Weaver's Triple-A debut is expected on Sunday, a day after Reyes makes his next appearance.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.