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updated: 6/7/2012 10:49 PM

Leyden grad Weaver picked by Tampa

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By Marty Maciaszek

Jonathan Weaver's ability to close baseball games at the right time may have opened the door to the start of his professional career.

Weaver, a two-time Daily Herald All-Area pick at Leyden, picked up 2 victories and a save for Central Michigan in the Mid-American Conference tournament. On Wednesday, he was picked by Tampa Bay in the 21st round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

"It was actually completely unexpected," Weaver said of receiving more interest from the Royals and Rangers. "I came on strong at the end of the year and built up momentum to propel myself up the draft boards. Prior to that I don't know if I even thought I would be drafted."

Weaver was drafted in the 17th round by the White Sox after going 16-2 in his final two seasons at Leyden. But he opted to go to Heartland Community College for two years and then transferred to Central Michigan.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-hander lost a pair of starts this spring before going to the bullpen. He was 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 7 saves in relief and allowed only 1 run in his final 13 appearances and 17 1-3 innings with the Chippewas.

"My main goal is to go out and throw strikes and make them hit the ball with the pitches I have, which are mainly fastballs," said Weaver, who is usually in the 91-93 mph range while touching 94. "Being a closer is a completely different mindset."

Weaver also believes his college experience and playing for Battle Creek (Mich.) in the Northwoods League in 2010 prepared him well for what's ahead. Weaver will fly to Fort Myers, Fla., on Sunday for a physical and said he could be assigned to Tampa's short-season Class A team in Hudson Valley, N.Y., or its Rookie League team in Princeton, W. Va.

"I'm not too worried about where I go," Weaver said. "I'm just looking forward to the chance to play."

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