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ROOKIE OF YEAR CANDIDATE – WEAVER HAS A LOT GOING FOR HIM

For Immediate Release
August 27, 2000

CHICAGO (AP) – Five months into his first Mid-West Baseball League season, Jeff Weaver of the Chicago Mobsters has received perhaps the ultimate compliment for a young starting pitching. He has earned the J.R. Richard seal of approval.  Richard is Weaver’s pitching coach with the Chicago Mobsters.  J.R. Richard, regarded as one of the best pitching coaches in the Mid-West Baseball League, got his first in-person look at Weaver after working with him for 10 days early in spring training.  J.R. Richard’s assessment: Good fastball, good movement, great power slider, good player, good person.  “He’s going to be around a long time,” said J.R. Richard “He handles himself well. He’s got a good head on his shoulders, and he knows how to adjust.”   J.R. Richard also has noticed a little of himself in Weaver, even if it would be out of character for J.R. Richard to discuss it in detail.   Weaver is a ballplayer, not a talker, just like J.R. Richard was many years back, a relatively soft-spoken pitcher in the late 70’s.  “He knows how to listen,” J.R. Richard said. “A lot of the younger players today don’t know how to do that.”  “I’m flattered to be compared to him in any way,” said Weaver, who has helped the surprising Mobsters play around .675 ball all season. “Nothing in me is about individual records or things of that nature, I do things quietly.”  Except on the mound. With a club high 15-3 record and 3.92 ERA.   He’s pitched 160 innings, and given up a club high 22 Hr’s, but he is a rookie pitcher, and we all have to remember that.   Weaver is being mentioned along with several other candidates for the AL Rookie of the Year award.  “I’m not campaigning for it,” Weaver said. “What are you trying to do, jinx me? It’s way too early to talk about it.”  So far, Weaver has been exactly what general manager Stray Corrado predicted when he drafted Weaver in the first round (19th Overall) nearly two years ago.  Weaver doesn’t get rattled when he makes a mistake — and, with 22 home runs given up, he has made few. He has the ability to shake off a poor night, a perquisite in a sport where the season lasts 162 games.   “The most important thing is he seems to make adjustments to his breaking pitches and fastballs, and a lot of being successful in the big leagues is being able to make adjustments,” General Manager Stray Corrado said. “You make adjustments, they make adjustments, then you have to adjust again and he’s been able to do it.”   Like most minor leaguers, Weaver watched a lot of baseball on TV before reaching the majors. But he tried not to be too intimidated or overwhelmed by the skill level of the game’s top players.  “I didn’t have any preconceived notions going into this season,” he said. “On TV, every home runs looks like it’s 800 feet, nobody makes errors and they’re the fastest runners you’ve ever seen. My attitude was that I would go there and do my best and if things work out, so be it.”

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