Thad G. Weber
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 200 lbs.
- School University of Nebraska, Hutchinson Community College
- High School Friend High School
- Debut April 22, 2012
Thad Weber made his big league debut with a tough-luck loss.
Weber was All-State in basketball in high school. He hit .380 with 45 RBI and had a 4-3, 4.79 record as a pitcher as a junior college freshman. Hutchinson went to the NJCAA Division I Baseball World Series that year. As a sophomore, he improved to 10-0, 2.16 with 66 K in 62 IP. He allowed a .199 average. He also hit .453 with a school-record 27 doubles, slugged .724 and drove in 63. He was second-team NJCAA All-American. The Cincinnati Reds took him in the 35th round of the 2005 amateur draft but he did not sign. Transferring to Nebraska, he was 1-2 with a 5.62 ERA as a junior, though he did fan 30 in 24 innings. Still playing first base at times, he was 9 for 35 with 2 doubles and 2 walks. He had a 7-0, 0.78 record in the M.I.N.K. Baseball League and Baseball America named him as the league's 5th-best prospect.
Weber was 9-5 with a 6.15 ERA for Nebraska in 2008, with 72 K in 79 IP. He was tied for third in the Big 12 Conference in wins and led the Conference in both runs allowed (61) and earned runs allowed (54) and was second-team All-Conference despite his high ERA. He and his wife also became parents that year.
The Detroit Tigers and scout Chris Wimmer saw enough in Weber to take him in the 16th round of the 2008 amateur draft. Weber made his pro debut with the GCL Tigers (9 K, 1 H, 0 R in 4 IP) then was promoted to the West Michigan Whitecaps (1-4, 2.56, .219 opponent average in 11 starts). He split 2009 between the Lakeland Flying Tigers (4-4, 2.13, .217 opponent average) and Erie SeaWolves (7-3, 4.06). He walked only 29 in 143 innings for the year. He finished third among Detroit farmhands in wins, behind Ruddy Lugo and Chris Lambert. He struck out 13 in 12 innings for the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League, with a 4.50 ERA.
In 2010, Weber was a workhorse for Erie (9-12, 4.08) and the Toledo Mud Hens (2-1, 1.64), totaling 189 2/3 innings in 28 starts. He led the Eastern League in innings (2/3 ahead of Drew Naylor), tied for third in complete games (2), tied for 4th in losses (with Duane Below and Ryohei Tanaka) and tied for 5th with 17 homers allowed (with Below, Michael Antonini and Tyler Robertson). He ranked among the Detroit farm chain leaders in losses (tied for first with Trevor Feeney), innings (1st), starts (tied for second with Below, one behind Feeney), runs allowed (1st, 91) and wins (tied for 3rd with Adam Wilk). He led the affiliated minor leagues in innings pitched. As if it had not been a busy enough year by modern minor league standards, he was busy in winter ball, going 4-1 with a 2.32 ERA for the Leones del Caracas.
The Nebraskan spent all of 2011 with the Mud Hens, going 5-11 with a 5.65 ERA, .290 opponent average and 28 homers in 151 1/3 IP. He tied Mark Cohoon and Corey Kluber for 7th in the 2011 International League in losses, was second to Scott Carroll in hits allowed and was second to Andrew Baldwin in homers served up. That winter, he had a 0-1, 3.45 record for Caracas. He began 2012 back with Toledo and was superb (2-0, 0.75) in his first two games. He was then called up to the big leagues to replace Daniel Schlereth.
He made his major league debut with the Detroit Tigers under trying circumstances on April 22, 2012. Weber had pitched five seasons in the Tigers' system up to that point, making 94 starts and one relief appearance (back in 2008). It was however in the unfamiliar role of reliever that he was called to the mound by manager Jim Leyland, facing the two-time defending American League champions, the Texas Rangers, in the 11th inning of a 2-2 game. He was already the team's 6th pitcher of the day, and immediately put himself in hot water when he walked the first batter he faced, Nelson Cruz; Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba followed with singles to load the bases. Alberto Gonzalez then squared up to lay down a squeeze bunt; replays would show conclusively that the ball glanced off his knee after bouncing on the ground, and should have been called a foul ball, but home plate umpire Tim Welke missed the call and allowed the play to stand. Thad fielded the ball, but was unable to retire anyone as Cruz came in to score. He then showed great poise by extricating himself from what could have been a huge inning by forcing Mitch Moreland to hit a grounder to third base, which started a 5-2-3 double play; when the next batter, Ian Kinsler, grounded to short, Weber was out of the inning having allowed only one run, but his teammates were unable to score off Joe Nathan in the bottom of the inning and he was saddled with the loss. He made only one other big league appearance that year, giving up three runs in as many innings in relief in a 9-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners on April 25th.
Weber returned to Toledo after his brief stint in the majors, going 7-11, 4.20 in 22 appearances. He was placed on waivers on August 23rd and claimed by the San Diego Padres, who in turn sent him to the Tucson Padres. He finished the season with 3 starts for Tucson, with a record of 1-0, 4.42. Overall, he pitched 147 innings in AAA that season, with a 4.22 ERA and 111 strikeouts against 34 walks. He tied for 4th in the 2012 International League in losses and tied Adam Wilk for 4th in the Tigers chain in defeats.