Sometimes, even the best plans wind up with unexpected twists.
When the Cubs selected Andy Weber in the 5th round of the 2018 draft out of the University of Virginia, they already had chosen SS Nico Hoerner with their first pick. Primarily a second baseman in college, the left-handed hitter was expected to line-up similarly once he signed. But that became an issue, as Weber remained unsigned as the cut-off date approached. “It took a while to get to the signing date,” Weber said in a preseason interview. “There was no rhyme or reason for that, its just kind of how the process went.”
The last player in of the 2018 draft class to finalize a deal, Weber first went to Arizona to get a baptism into pro baseball. With the AZL Cubs there was a new challenge for Weber: shortstop. “I played more second base in college,” said Weber. “But for me, I love playing shortstop. I think its probably the position I have the most fun playing.”
After 13 games, Weber was moved up to Short Season-A Eugene. With the Emeralds, he split time between short and second base. But there was also another challenge, and that was third base.
“I’ve played a lot of shortstop in pro ball, stated Weber. Shortstop is the most challenging for me. But, third base is also challenging as well, I think because I haven’t played there that much.” “Being versatile is something you have to do in this organization. “It’s definitely a challenge to be moving around like that, and I’m excited for that.”
Weber finished his inaugural pro season by going .291/.363/.329/.692 with 3 doubles and 7 RBI in 23 games for the Emeralds. In the Northwest League Championship, Weber made some key defensive plays at third base in order to bring Eugene the league crown.
Moving up to Low-A South Bend, the 21-year old was introspective to start the season. “This is definitely the most baseball I have ever played coming into it,” explained Weber. “I think the biggest thing is learning about yourself, both mentally and physically, and trying to take care of your body every day.”
Coming out of the gate, Weber struggled to start the season. In 22 April games, Weber hit only .238 and struck out 23 times. However, Weber did make his hits count by driving in 16 runs. What was not expected was the 9 error Weber committed at shortstop. The decision the Cubs made to play Weber exclusively short did not seem to be paying off.
But the developmental process rewards those with patience. The Cubs‘ unwavering stance with Weber began to show results in May. Heating up with the weather, Weber slashed .291/.339/.389/.737 with 6 doubles, a triple, a home run, and another 7 RBI. Weber also drastically reduced his errors at shortstop, committing only 4 in the month.
All totaled, Weber is batting .263/.312/.379/.691 with 12 doubles, 5 triples, 2 home runs, and 32 RBI heading into the break. Selected as an Eastern Division All-Star for the Midwest League All-Star Game, Weber will have some work to do in the second half. Smoothing out his defense will be a priority, as the Cubs selected “bat-first” second baseman Chase Strumpf in the second round of the 2019 draft. Weber will have to improve his patience and selection at the plate, cutting down his strikeouts.
But Weber seems to have the proper attitude. “Its going to get easy to get distracted or down on yourself because its a long season. I think the biggest thing is staying focused and consistent.”
“As long as I try to remain focused, and work at being a great teammate, those are going to be the most important things.”
Born and raised on Chicago's Northwest side, Tom is entering his tenth year covering the Cubs minor league system, writing for prestigious sites such as Chicago Cubs Online, Locked On Cubs, and Cubs Den. Over that period, Tom has published interviews with top prospects such as Aramis Ademan, Miguel Amaya, Willson Contreras, Jeimer Candelario, Dylan Cease, Ian Happ, Eloy Jimenez, Cole Roederer, and Gleyber Torres.
Known as "Tom U" across the internet, Tom also has a close working relationship with the front offices of all four of the Cubs' full season minor league teams. A frequent guest of the South Bend Cubs on WSBT radio, Tom has also written monthly articles for the South Bend Cubs' stadium program.