The Mariners have signed Patrick Weigel to a minor league contract, according to Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of Baseball America. The right-hander had elected minor league free agency at the end of the season after being outrighted off the Brewers’ 40-man roster in August.
Weigel, now 27, is probably best known for his early-career days in the Braves’ farm system. A 7th-round draftee in 2015, he emerged as one of the more interesting young arms in the organization within a couple seasons. Weigel drew plaudits for a mid-high 90s fastball and a pair of quality breaking balls. Baseball America slotted him among the top ten prospects in the farm system after he dominated at Low-A in 2016, but he suffered a UCL tear that required Tommy John surgery the following season. He missed almost all of the 2018 campaign rehabbing.
While Weigel returned to post decent numbers in the high minors in 2019, he’s had a rough go of things the past couple years. He made his first MLB outing during the shortened 2020 campaign but spent the bulk of the year at the alternate training site. Atlanta traded Weigel to Milwaukee last April as part of a two-player package to bring in utilityman Orlando Arcia.
Weigel’s lone year with the Brew Crew didn’t go well. He averaged a solid 94.6 MPH on his fastball during his three big league appearances, but he only spent a bit more than a week on the active roster. The California native spent the rest of the year with Triple-A Nashville, where he worked almost exclusively as a reliever. Over 43 1/3 innings with the Sounds, he managed just a 7.27 ERA while struggling immensely with his control. Weigel walked an untenable 17.6% of batters faced at the minors’ top level last season, exacerbating strike-throwing problems he’s faced throughout his career.
It’s unlikely Weigel will ever have great command, but he’ll certainly need to throw more strikes than he did in 2021 if he’s to earn a spot on Seattle’s big league roster. It seems likely the M’s will give him a look in Spring Training to see if he can better harness the raw stuff that made him a solid prospect. Weigel was predominantly a starter up through 2019, but scouting reports had long suggested he might eventually have to move to the bullpen because of his questionable command. Given that he worked in relief last year, it seems likely the Mariners are eyeing him as a depth option for the ’pen.