De La Cruz throws mid-90s with a slider that likely will determine his ceiling as a major leaguer. He has the tools that would make him an asset as a starter or reliever, though he likely would be the latter if he debuts this season.
The towering 6-foot-6, 240-pound Weigel has long been a Snitker favorite. The 25-year-old received a call to the majors last season, further distanced from Tommy John surgery in June 2017, but didn’t appear in a game.
“He’s been through a lot,” Snitker said when Weigel was promoted to the bullpen in July. “If he hadn’t have got hurt, I’d probably assume he’d have been part of this club right now anyway.”
Snitker also was impressed with Tucker Davidson, who was the organization’s 2019 minor-league breakout star. Davidson recorded a 2.03 ERA with a 122:45 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 21 starts before his promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett.
Davidson, who turns 24 next month, complements a low-to-mid-90s fastball with three off-speed pitches, including what scouts consider an intriguing curveball. The Braves want to see the lefty make strides with his command, but despite the high walk totals, Davidson burst onto the scene and made himself a legitimate prospect.
“I liked him last spring,” Snitker said. “I loved his assortment. He’s bigger, stronger. Had a really good year. A guy like Ian Anderson, those kinds of guys, you can’t wait for the games to start so you can watch them.”
Weigel, Davidson and De La Cruz won’t be the first names mentioned in the Braves’ trove of pitchers. But they’re perfect examples of the team’s increasing pitching depth behind its set starters: Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Cole Hamels and Mike Foltynewicz.
Hamels will miss the start of the regular season because of shoulder discomfort, at least temporarily opening another job in the rotation. Sean Newcomb is considered a favorite to take one of the two vacant spots, but the other is up for grabs among a bevy of youngsters and a hopeful veteran in Felix Hernandez.
Wright, Touki Toussaint and Bryse Wilson are the oft-mentioned candidates. Each didn’t solidify a role on the major-league club last season, and while each disappointed to some degree, the Braves are extremely patient. Each will have opportunities this spring and at some point in the regular season. As Snitker often reiterates, those pitchers aren’t finished products.
“There’s numbers there,” Snitker said. “All these guys have another year under their belt, a lot of them are getting healthy, it’s good to see. There are a lot of guys who are going to provide us depth.”