Inextricably linked by their many similarities, the paths of Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew continue to run on an uncanny parallel, as they both turned in the best performance of their young careers on Tuesday night in the California League.
Just over a month after each 2004 first-round draft pick signed an 11th-hour deal to avoid returning to the 2005 draft, Weaver picked up his first Minor League victory with five innings of two-hit ball for Rancho Cucamonga while Drew was 30 miles south in Lake Elsinore notching his first two-homer game in Lancaster's 5-4 loss to the Storm.
Where the paths of the two high-profile, Scott Boras-represented, younger brothers of Major Leaguers have diverged is in their level of success in the first few weeks of their careers.
Weaver, picked 12th overall by the Angels, hadn't pitched competitively for over a year since guiding Long Beach State to the Super Regionals last June. The 2004 Golden Spikes Award winner was understandably rusty in his first few outings for the Quakes, giving up 16 hits in 9 1/3 innings while posting a 9.64 ERA in his first three starts.
Drew, on the other hand, came out swinging with the JetHawks after tuning up for a month with the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League, where he was tops in average (.427), on-base percentage (.484) and slugging percentage (.744). Weaver, not surprisingly, also signed with the Riversharks, but had yet to pitch for them when left for Rancho.
Drew hit .417 with two homers, eight RBIs and nine runs scored in his first six games and was named the league's Offensive Player of the Week. After being sidelined with a hamstring injury for two weeks, the 22-year-old shortstop picked up right where he'd left off, hitting .375 with three home runs and eight RBIs in six games, culminating in Tuesday night's 2-for-5, two-homer, four-RBI performance.
Weaver was also on top of his game Tuesday night, allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out seven in five innings. He was touched for two unearned runs in the second, when consecutive errors spoiled what should have been his second of four perfect innings.
The win evened Weaver's record at 1-1 while his ERA slimmed down to 6.28. Despite his early struggles, Weaver's control has been excellent as usual, as he has walked just three batters in 14 1/3 innings while striking out 20.
Drew and Weaver should face each other when the Quakes host the JetHawks on July 14-17.
Jason Ratliff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.