Photo: Perfect Game

Weathers works ahead of curve

Tiffany Seal

Published: Friday, July 21, 2017



EMERSON, Ga. — Growing up, Ryan Weathers did not have to look far for an autograph from a big leaguer. Just like most 8-year-olds who enjoy a game of catch with their dad on a ball field, Weathers was no different—he just happened to have a dad, David Weathers, who was a reliever for the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers at the time, and the fields, they were a little nicer and bigger than most Little Leagues.

“It was great,” said Ryan Weathers. “I always got to spend all my time in the locker room and the dugout and watch all the other players play. I have some characteristics that they used to do because I would watch them so much, they taught me a lot by just watching.”

The most invaluable aspect of his time spent around Major League clubs was not the readily available and abundant amount of instruction, but rather the mental side of a very mental game.

“The biggest thing with him is watching him mature over the last three years,” said Tim Dulin, head coach of the Dulin’s Dodgers. “He’s got what a lot of guys in the industry call the ‘it’ factor. He just gets it. His ability to slow the game down and compete at a high level.”

His advanced maturity, work ethic and pitchability on the mound have earned him a commitment to Vanderbilt, where he could potentially be a two-way player for the Commodores.

“I look forward to playing for coach Corbin, and pitching for coach Brown,” said Weathers. “I’ve talked to them a lot, and they are even better people than coaches, so I look forward to that.”

Some of his instincts for the game could be contributed to his early exposure of some of the top talent in baseball.

“I think early on, it had a lot do with it,” said David Weathers. “Probably 8, 9, 10 years old he was constantly around big league players, watching how they worked, pregame, postgame, all those things. He saw what it took to be able to play at that level. I am sure he does some of those things, but as he got older, he developed his own habits and own thought process. I think that’s the biggest thing for him, is that he is so much ahead of the curve mentally, more than physically.”

The 6-foot-2 lefty works with a three-pitch mix, including a two-seam, changeup and curve--relying on his ability to mix and locate to keep hitters off-balance and induce weak contact.

“My approach on the mound is to just pound the strike zone. I don’t try to strike everybody out, and just pitch to contact, because getting older, you have a good defense behind you, and have to trust them.”

The defense of the Dulin Dodgers is studded with top Division I talent, heading to the likes of LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas State, Tennessee, Louisville and Vanderbilt. The program is based out of Cordova, Tennessee, located just east of Memphis. It boasts an impressive pedigree of alumni, including current Major Leaguers who have come through the program since its inception in 2001.

The development within the organization has been built upon Dulin’s All-American career at Memphis and seven seasons within the Baltimore Orioles organization, where he learned from baseball greats like Cal Ripken Jr. and Rod Carew. During the last 16 years, the Dodgers have won nine National Championships, and in the process, produced 400 college players and 22 All-Americans—with 60 continuing their career in professional baseball.

“I have had some really good guys that are playing in the Big Leagues right now,” said Dulin. “Drew Pomeranz, Mookie Betts, Logan Forsythe, we have seven or eight guys in the Big Leagues, and [Ryan] is a Big Leaguer.”

The last three years of David Weathers’ career between the Reds and Brewers were at just the right time for a young Ryan Weathers to be able to appreciate and learn by example from the talent around him.

“Obviously having him come from the pedigree of his dad playing in the big leagues, he understands what he wants to do,” said Dulin. “This time last year, we talked to a lot of different professional scouts about things he might need to work on, it was constructive, yet he took it to heart and worked his rear-end off during the offseason.”

With an 18-year career in the MLB, including a World Series Championship, David Weathers likes to take a backseat when it comes to his son’s mechanics and physical development.

“I think a lot of it is mental,” said David Weathers. “We never talk anything physical, everything we discuss is the mental aspect. How to handle yourself, how to act like a professional, how you respect the other team, respect your teammates, respect your coaches, umpires, the whole deal.

"For me, that’s been our biggest growth for him has been the mental side of it. The physical side of it is, God gives you whatever tools you have. You’re born with most of it. He and I coexist on the baseball field really well just because of that factor.”

After years of support, Ryan echoes the same feelings, going into his senior year.

“He’s helped me develop as a player and as a person. He’s always nonstop giving me support and helping me out no matter what.”

Weathers and the Dodgers are back in Greater Atlanta for the 17u PG Summer Showdown after attending the 17u National Championship earlier this summer. The Perfect Game circuit is one tool the program uses to help in the development process. 

“[These tournaments] help me a lot because the competition is a lot better,” said Weathers. “In high school, you might be able to throw as hard as you can and not worry about it, but here, you have to throw it hard and on top of that, hit your spot. If you mess up you’re going to get a hit off you and get runs off you.”

As for his dad, the role reversal of father and son has had a surprising effect.

“I get nervous,” said Weathers. “When I played I never got nervous, and now when he’s pitching, I hold it in pretty well, but the whole time I’m just churning.

“I want our kids to be successful, you figure out real quick my job is not to hover over him and micromanage, let him have some stuff that happens that is not necessarily good things, it’s a lot of failure, because baseball is a lot of failure. [I am] there to encourage him and explain to him how to fix something that’s going wrong so you won’t have failure. But as a dad, I am so proud of him and proud of how hard he works, and proud of what he has done so far.”

One of Ryan Weathers' recent honors includes being named to the Perfect Game All-American Classic, showcasing the top 50 high school seniors at San Diego’s Petco Park in August.

“It’s a great honor. Perfect Game is the biggest baseball name in the United States. On top of that, we get to partner with the Children’s Hospital. They would do anything to be out on the field, so it is a big deal for them and a big deal for us as people.”

While in San Diego, the All-Americans will spend the day at Rady Children’s Hospital playing with the kids. Players have the opportunity to raise their own online donations alongside the proceeds from the Classic going toward pediatric cancer research and treatment at Rady.

“I’ve been involved with a lot of Perfect Game stuff from its inception,” said Dulin. “The event they put on in California is phenomenal, and it’s very rewarding for kids. They do a lot of homework on not just selecting good players, but check their character and make sure they fit the mold of what their All-American game is all about. Ryan definitely fits that.”

Weathers’ beyond years maturity and approach to the game have set a precedence within his team and the coaching staff.

“He is fun to watch, and the biggest thing is he enjoys competing," said Dulin. "We just kind of get out of his way, to be honest, he’s just fun to watch. He’s a quiet leader on the field, and we don’t really have to do much.”


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