Is There A Place For Thad Weber?
By Chris Hannum
The Tigers have a bunch of guys playing in Latin leagues (mostly Venezuelan) and had a handful playing in Arizona this fall as well. Most, like Avisail Garcia, Ryan Strieby, Andrew Oliver, etc… haven’t done anything to send a signal to the Tigers brass that they’re ready to make a jump. Some, and I’ll put Strieby in this group along with pitcher Thad Weber, need to impress just to show that they warrant another shot in the Tigers organization.
Thad Weber is one of the few, though, who is looking good. In six starts for the Caribes de Anzoategui in Venezuela, Weber has a 3.76 ERA and 21 Ks to 8 walks.
That’s more like what Weber showed in his first 3 years in the Tigers system, when his ERAs were 2.39, 3.15 and 3.80. That was before the wheels came off in Toledo last year: Weber made 27 starts and led the Mud Hens with 151 and a third innings pitched. He also put up a 5.65 ERA and went 5-11. His K/BB rate didn’t deviate all that much from his minor league career averages but he started getting hit – hard – with a rise in BABIP to .312 and a home run rate double what he had previously given up in the minors.
Weber was an old draftee (and after being selected in the 15th round, never a premier prospect) so success in the low levels and a rapid progression through the minors was always absolutely necessary for a big league career. Now he’s 27, having never thrown an inning in the big leagues and with the stain – which could be partly bad luck – of a flop in AAA on his record. Weber needs to do something to show that he’s worth giving another shot at AAA to prove that 2011 was a fluke to stay in the mix for a possible swingman/spot starter gig somewhere in the majors – whether it’s ultimately with Detroit or elsewhere. Whether he’ll be in Toledo next season is anyone’s guess: the Tigers do have a glut of lefties in the upper minors but relatively few righties, but next year’s Mud Hens rotation already has more deserving candidates than you could shake a stick at. Here’s hoping that Weber continues his success in Venezuela and gets another chance, somewhere.