Ryan Weathers made his first start of the spring on Tuesday and continues to develop his pitches with the help of fellow Padres pitchers Yu Darvish and MacKenzie Gore.
With no minor league season in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, the former seventh overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft was added to the Padres taxi squad. Weathers had an impressive 2019 campaign, posting a 3.84 ERA across 22 starts for then Single-A Fort Wayne.
He was part of the Padres collective effort to get through Game 1 of the NLDS after Mike Clevinger left due to injury after just one inning. Asked if he had any nerves pitching in that moment, Weathers treated it like any other outing.
“It was more like, ‘I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.,'” Weathers said confidently. “It’s the same thing that whether it’s the alternate site and into this spring training, my goal was to have them make a hard decision.”
A 21-year-old Weathers completed two innings on Tuesday, throwing 20-of-34 pitches for strikes, fanning two, and walking one. Diamondbacks’ shortstop Nick Ahmed doubled, and Ketel Marte drove him in, but that’s all the hits Weathers would surrender.
Overall, it was a promising debut for a pitcher whose destination for the 2021 season remains unknown. Not long after the conclusion of the game, ESPN’s Jeff Passan broke the news that the Triple-A season will be delayed at least a month.
“I got a little taste of the big leagues, as in three days,” Weathers explained. “I don’t want to leave there, so I’m going to do everything in my power to try to stay there, and wherever I can help this team win games, that’s where I want to help them.”
Weathers’ fastball has always been a plus-pitch. He touches the high 90s with ease, but his secondary pitches were still a work in progress. Thankfully, he’s in camp with arguably the best collective group of pitchers in Major League Baseball. Whether it be from a 34-year-old veteran to a 22-year-old top pitching prospect still looking to make his debut, Weathers is soaking it all in.
“Right now, I’m working on MacKenzie Gore‘s grip,” Weathers said of his changeup. “He’s helping me out with that right now. It’s getting better. It’s definitely better than what it was.
“I got to talk to Yu Darvish a pretty good bit, just working on my slider because obviously he spins the ball better than any pitcher in the game and has like 17 pitches,” Weathers said as he laughed. “Just getting to talk to him through his translator, that’s been awesome for me, knowing that he’s a proven big-leaguer that’s a Cy Young candidate every year.”
The delayed start to the Triple-A presents another roadblock for several pitchers, including Ryan Weathers. Prior to his postseason debut last fall, Weathers had never pitched above Single-A. The big-league rotation is full, and there’s very little room in the bullpen for new faces. With a strong spring, Weathers could sneak into the conversation of being an important element on the big league roster.