Casey Weathers is not a typical baseball prospect. To start, he’s already 30 years old. In comparison, the Cleveland Indians’ most prized prospect over the past five years, Francisco Lindor, was 18 when he was drafted. Weathers was originally drafted eighth overall in the 2007 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies, ahead of San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. A former standout at Vanderbilt University, Weathers could be found throwing 100-mph heat during his first full season in the minors at Tulsa (AA).
But, as is common with pitchers who throw with that kind of velocity, Weathers had elbow trouble. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008, and due to complications, he was later forced to have another elbow operation. His velocity dropped to a top speed of 92 mph. At the end of the 2013 season, he was let go by the Chicago Cubs. After spring training the following year, he was cut by the San Francisco Giants.
Rehabbing by throwing weighted balls at a facility called DriveLine near Seattle, Weathers slowly began to regain his velocity. After seeing a video of him hitting 105 mph on a “Pull Down Drill” (in which a pitcher executes a crow hop before throwing the ball as hard as he he can), the Indians signed Weathers to a minor league deal in 2015. That year, he struck out more than a batter per inning, 55 in 49 1/3 innings to be exact, and attained a top speed of 97 mph.
Which brings us to the above video of Weathers hitting 107.8 mph on a recent performance of the Pull Down Drill. We understand that the crow hop gives him momentum he wouldn’t have on the mound. Still, his throw is 4 mph faster than the fastest pitch ever recorded in a game (103.9 mph by Aroldis Chapman); and the Pull Down Drill is used to improve arm speed on the mound, which Weathers said helped him immensely. (Even more impressive? With a running start, outfielder Carlos Gomez hit 103.1 mph throwing a ball from the outfield to home plate.)
“I’m trying to recreate the stress that I’m going to see throwing max-intent in the game,” Weathers told mlb.com.
So, yeah, Weathers hitting 108 is a pretty big deal, and it might breathe new life into a career that looked all but over.