Pitcher Ryan Weathers of Loretto HS in Loretto, Tennessee, had quite the senior year. Not only was the young southpaw recently named Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year, he also earned the honor of Class A Mr. Baseball. The 6-foot-2, 210lb draft prospect has a healthy fastball that clocks anywhere between 90-95mph on average and a strong command of his change up.
Current mock drafts are predicting Weathers to go smack dab in the middle of the first round, with Baseball America (21st - Milwaukee Brewers) , MLB (17th - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) and ESPN (15th - Texas Rangers) all hovering around the same late-teen spot. Be sure to check out Weathers’ full scouting report over at Minor League Ball.
How did growing up watching your father’s career effect how you played the game?
Since I was able to actually understand baseball, which was around the age of three, I was always at the field. He [David Weathers] would let me hit batting practice and run around. He started me out as a first baseman and hitting was my first love. Then when I got to about ten years old, I started pitching and fell in love with pitching. Since then it’s been about elevating my pitching game. I’m fortune enough—God blessed me enough—to allow me to pursue my dream of baseball and just letting me maximize my God given talent.
With my dad being there for me and him being in the game for so long, he knows exactly, if I am messing up, what to do to correct me. Just having him as a dad and a coach is incredible.
What was your favorite team growing up?
I cheered for whatever team my dad was playing on when I was younger, but when I got to about six years old I started rooting for the Dodgers and they’ve been my favorite team since then.
Word on the street is that you’re a pretty good basketball player too. How did you decide which sport to play more seriously?
My mom was a basketball star at Belmont University, I think she’s like the third all-time leading scorer there [we checked—she is], so she’s a competitor and I actually started basketball before baseball. It was my first true love, I went out every day and shot around outside. This year was a really tough decision because of potentially being a draftee and everything, choosing between playing basketball and not playing basketball. I’ve been playing basketball with the guys since I was in fourth grade. We won the state championship this year and I just wanted to finish out with them and end with a bang. This year, being a basketball state champion was harder than being a baseball state champion. You know, it was one of the most fun times I’ve had in my life and hard to leave behind.
You’ve recently announced your commitment to Vanderbilt to play college ball. What made you decide to go there?
You can’t argue the numbers and the players they produce out of there. Coach Corbin is an amazing person as well as a mentor and coach all in one. To have that as potentially your head coach, there’s nothing else that you need going into a college program. With Coach Brown heading the pitching staff, he’s produced pitcher after pitcher out of Vandy. Plus they have brand new facilities on top of all of that, it’s hard to turn down any of those things. Vanderbilt is also closer to home and it’s a baseball school, so it’s hard to look away from that. When I went one day for a visit I fell in love with it instantly. My parents and I sat and talked to Coach Corbin for a couple hours and maybe spent five minutes of that talking about baseball. I love every second of it.
You sustained a pretty rough injury to your hand this year. How did you pitch through that? What was it like coming back from that?
It was at first devastating. I’ve never been out from an injury for more than a game or two and at first I was struggling with it mentally because I was worrying about it all that time. But I guess the point where I just didn’t worry about it anyway was when the doctor told me it wasn’t broken and I could hurt it any worse than it was. I couldn’t hit because I couldn’t grip a bat, but it was good enough to grip a baseball and throw. From there, I tried to block it out as much as I could and I think in the long run that really helped me learn to pitch through pain. It taught me that you know when you’re really hurt and when you’re not and I was able to play through it and used it as a learning experience going forward.
How does it feel now?
It’s back at 100%.
How did you stay focused your senior year with the draft looming in the background?
It’s a lot of thinking. Especially being from a small town and seeing that you could potentially be a draft pick is a big deal. Anybody that’s been around me would know that I never let any of that stuff effect me. I’ve always just played the game that I love and tried to play as hard as I can. Being able to play out here with the guys, being from a small town I’ve been playing with these guys since we were six years old, so it’s been fun growing together and finishing out this year with hopefully another state championship.
What’s your biggest strength as a pitcher?
My mind for the game. My dad taught me the ins and outs of baseball and usually there’s not a situation you can throw at me because he’s prepped me mentally for all that stuff. For that I’m grateful for because as a pitcher it’s all about your mental game as much as your ability. Most of your game is above your shoulders, that’s what you need to have as a pitcher. My dad has worked that tool in me and I’ve been able to use and abuse it for good.
What do you want to work on most?
Sometimes I’ll get a little crazy on command because I’ll try to throw as hard as I can, so just kind of staying in my zone and not worrying about velocity or spin, making sure I stay within myself.
What current MLB player would you compare your style to most?
Probably Jon Lester.
Was going pro always the goal?
The end goal for me is hopefully having a long career in baseball and playing in the major leagues. Ever since I’ve been able to pick up a baseball it’s been my dream to play professionally. I’m not trying to follow my dad’s footsteps and play in his shadow, I’m trying to really create my own name. Sometimes it’s hard to do that because he was such a successful pitcher. He played 19 years in the big leagues, that’s unheard of these days. He’s supported me more than anybody and he’s wanted me to be better than him. It just goes to show that he’s a selfless person, he’s not selfish at all, and I’m glad that I’m able to have those same characteristics as him and hopefully I get to spend as long a time as him playing baseball. That’d be a dream come true, getting to pitch in every MLB park in the country. That’s my ultimate goal—and to win a World Series, I’ve always wanted that feeling too.
As you were finding your groove as a baseball player, what was the best advice your dad gave you?
He told me, “Just have fun and enjoy the moment, baseball doesn’t last for forever and you’re not always going to get to play it. Play every game like it’s your last game.”
Any expectations going into draft night?
No. I can’t really say anything because it hasn’t happened yet, I just hope a team gives me a chance to show them what I can do. I don’t have any predictions, the only thing I know I have for sure is Vanderbilt and going there, getting to play for Coach Corbin, until anything otherwise, or my name gets called on draft day.