By Jim Lane
Minor league baseball is a learning experience in more ways than one because young players seldom know what to expect, whether it’s on the field or off.
In that regard, you might say Altoona Curve infielder Erich Weiss has a bit of an edge on most of his teammates.
Weiss’s dad, Gary, played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and, therefore, is a great teacher and example for his son.
“He’s taught me everything that I know,” Erich Weiss was saying recently during a break in spring training at Pirate City. “He taught me how to throw, how to field and hit … so everything really.”
He’s also taught him some things to expect when he isn’t playing.
“He went through everything that I’m going through now,” Erich said. “He’s always been my stronghold.”
Not surprisingly, Erich is a middle infielder, the same as his dad.
Gary Weiss’s last year with the Dodgers was 1981 – 10 years before Erich was born.
“He played three or four years with the Dodgers as a middle infielder,” Erich said, “but he was done by the time I was born.”
Born in Bellville, Texas, Erich said he always was a middle infielder – “shortstop or second and I pitched a little, too. It was always baseball for me. I didn’t play other sports,” the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder noted.
A high school standout, Erich Weiss had offers from the University of Texas, Texas State, Rice and Houston, among others, before casting his lot with the Longhorns.
“It was always my goal to play at UT,” he said. “It was my dream growing up.”
Weiss had an outstanding college career. As a junior, in 2013, he hit .299 (53-for-177) with seven doubles, three triples, one homer and 24 RBIs in 49 games. As a sophomore, he started all 52 games and batted .350 with five homers and 38 RBIs while earning All-Big 12 first-team honors. As a freshman, he batted .348 in 68 games and won Louisville Slugger All-America honors.
“My freshman year we played in the College World Series,” Weiss said. “We eventually lost to Florida and North Carolina, but Omaha was an awesome experience.”
Selected in the 11th round of the amateur draft after his junior year at UT, Weiss started his pro career at Jamestown in the short-season New York-Penn League. He was named to the mid-season all-star team and finished with a .273 average in 41 games.
Weiss jumped to low-A West Virginia in 2014 and was selected to the South Atlantic League’s mid-season all-star team, eventually finishing with a .287 average in 130 games.
He split the 2015 season between high-A Bradenton and Class AA Altoona, batting .285 in 98 games with the Marauders a d .250 in 31 games with the Curve.
“I really liked Altoona the short time I was there” he said. “Pennsylvania is a beautiful state with the hills and scenery. And the fans are awesome. The boosters, too. I’m excited to play there this year.”
Besides his dad, Weiss said he looks up to Pirate infield instructor Gary Green as well as former managers Tom Prince, Mike Ryan and Mendy Lopez.
“I just met (new Curve manager) Joey Cora this spring,” Weiss said. “I like him a lot and I think he’ll be able to help me at second and in the infield.”
Larry Broadway, the Pirates’ director of minor league operations, is happy with the progress Weiss has made to date.
“He’s looking good,” Broadway said. “He’s starting to come in with some impact. He’s a quality hitter and is getting a better approach.
“We’ll keep him at second base for the time being. We like him there.”