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Cards will indeed promote pitching prospect Shelby Miller

Sep 2, 2012, 4:26 PM EDT

shelby miller getty Getty Images

It has been rumored since early last week, and now we can pretty much make the transaction official.

Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals will call up top pitching prospect Shelby Miller this week from Triple-A Memphis, where he went 5-1 with a dazzling 53/4 K/BB ratio and 2.89 ERA over 37 1/3 innings in August.

Miller struggled badly over the first four months of this season, but something clicked for him recently and he’s beginning to dominate again like he did at the lower levels of the Cardinals’ minor league system. He’ll pitch out of the bullpen in St. Louis, not out of the rotation where his future lies.

The 21-year-old right-hander from Houston, Texas boasts a high-90s fastball and an improving curve. He could play a big role in long relief as the Redbirds try to grap a postseason spot.

  1. okwhitefalcon - Sep 2, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Couldn’t be happier for the guy, he’s done a complete 180 from the first half.

    Beyond the Strauss article linked above, here’s something from Jeff Gordon on the kids turnaround from earlier this week.

    “Joe Strauss reported from Memphis, Miller did about everything possible wrong from the end of last season until the midway point of this season.

    Improper conditioning? Check.
    Entitlement attitude? Check.
    Refusal to heed advice from veterans? Check.
    Stubborn pitching approach? Check.
    Refusal to hold himself accountable? Check.
    Lack of team spirit? Check.
    Bitterness and self-pity? Check.

    Constant losing didn’t get his attention, but getting yanked from the rotation did. So did losing his latitude to shake off pitches.

    Miller refocused and blew away Pacific Coast League hitters down the stretch. That pitcher is good enough to help the Cardinals.

    The organization shouldn’t promote him just to give him a stretch-run education. There is no time for classwork during a playoff race.

    Nor should the organization hold Miller back fearing he will get ahead of himself again. If that happens, it happens. Kelly and Rosenthal passed him this year and perhaps Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha would pass him next year. Competition has a way of correcting behavior.

    The Cardinals must go with their best and right now Miller is one of their best. He is 6-2 with a 3.04 earned-run average and 61 strikeouts (against just seven walks) in nine starts since the All-Star Game.

    There are always concerns about properly managing the 40-man roster, as Derrick Goold explained in some detail. But they seem minor compared to the need to arm properly for the final push.

    So what if Miller burns one of his options early? As Goold noted, the franchise has bigger concerns if Miller has to ride the Memphis shuttle for the next several years.

    This is no time to hold back”

  2. westcoastredbird - Sep 2, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    After watching Lance Lynn implode again you can’t help but think Miller will get his innings. Lynn will probably get mop up duty until he proves he can get people out again. Losing 30 or 40 lbs wouldn’t hurt either. It looks like he’s cashing in those Hardy gift cards like Matt Adams. I saw Miller in spring training with my cousin from Springfield who didn’t recognize him because he lost so much weight. I’m glad he got himself back together. You just don’t see that K/BB ratio everyday. The Cards bullpen except for Mujica walks way too many batters. Welcome to the show kid! Let’s see if we can’t get a ring this year.

    • okwhitefalcon - Sep 2, 2012 at 6:19 PM

      I don’t think enough can be said about Miller getting it back together, he responded big time to the tough love and earned the call up.

      I think he may indeed get some of Lynn’s time, time will tell I suppose.

      One thing for sure, Rosenthal and Miller could play a huge part down the stretch – that is some serious young filth coming out of the pen.

  3. okwhitefalcon - Sep 2, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    Here’s the latest from Joe Strauss on Miller’s call up, the “last 10 starts” stats are eye popping:

    “WASHINGTON • Motivated by a mounting need for arms as well as a young pitcher’s metamorphosis, the Cardinals will include top pitching prospect Shelby Miller among those it promotes from Class AAA Memphis this week.

    Miller, 21, appeared to have stagnated for much of the season until a recent surge convinced the club of his worthiness to participate in the club’s push for a postseason berth. Miller furthered his case with a strong six-inning outing against Nashville on Friday. He allowed one run and five hits while striking out nine without a walk. The win left him at 11-10 with a 4.74 ERA this season, ordinary-looking numbers except when balanced against an abysmal first half.

    In his last 10 starts beginning July 14, Miller amassed a 7-2 record and 2.88 ERA while limiting opposing hitters to a .217 average. Once viewed as resistant to coaching, Miller helped his standing by embracing changes to his mechanics and exhibiting greater willingness to feature offspeed pitches.

    Miller, the club’s first-round selection in the 2009 amateur draft, struck out 66 against only six walks in his last nine appearances compared to 100 strikeouts against 44 walks in his first 18 starts. Miller averaged more than six innings during his last nine appearances and struck out at least nine in three of his last five. The Pacific Coast League named Miller its pitcher of the week twice in August.

    Too thin when he reached spring training because of an unauthorized offseason conditioning program, Miller has regained weight and velocity the last two months. The club promoted Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal ahead of him this season and for the first time was willing to make him available during July trade talks.

    The Cardinals must add Miller to their 40-man roster when they promote him Tuesday. The rest of those promoted — infielder Ryan Jackson, outfielder Adron Chambers and reliever Victor Marte — already are on the 40-man roster. The club may recall a player on its roster any time in September.

    No plan currently exists for Miller to receive a start. He is more likely to be used in a mop-up relief role while gaining exposure to a major-league staff that was unimpressed by his aloofness in spring training.”

  4. okwhitefalcon - Sep 3, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    More on Miller’s turnaround and how he maybe used in STL from Rob Rains:

    “The Cardinals say the decision to promote top pitching prospect Shelby Miller from Triple A Memphis on Tuesday is not a reward for how well he has pitched the last two months.

    General Manager John Mozeliak said Monday the decision is based on how much the Cardinals think Miller can contribute to their playoff drive this month.

    “It was really something where we feel he can help us right now,” Mozeliak said. “If you look back at how he’s pitched the last six, seven weeks, he’s really turned the corner. When you look at the composition of our club right now, and in terms of starting pitching and not being able to go deep into games, as we get to September we felt he would be a nice injection into that.”

    Miller, 21, was the Cardinals’ first-round pick in the 2009 draft. After starting his first year at Triple A with a 4-8 record and 6.17 ERA before the All-Star break, Miller has been much better since mid-July. In his last 10 starts since July 14, Miller was 7-2 with a 2.88 ERA. In 59 1/3 innings, Miller allowed 48 hits while walking seven and striking out 70.

    Mozeliak said he envisioned Miller pitching primarily in a long relief role, but he did not rule out the possibility that he will get one or more starts between now and the end of the year.

    “We’re competing for a playoff spot, so giving somebody experience is not the right strategy,” Mozeliak said. “Are there ancillary benefits from this? Sure, but that was not the reason we brought him up.”

    Manager Mike Matheny said he has no pre-conceptions about how Miller will be used.

    “We need to get his feet wet first and see what we’ve got and take it from there,” Matheny said. “I think he’s made a lot of strides in the second half of the season and even more so he made some strides maturing as a player and as a person. He’s not that many years out of high school so it’s all been pretty natural with his progression.

    “This is a lot to handle up here and it really seemed like he turned the corner and the way he was going about it and obviously he had a very strong finish on the mound. We look at it right now, we’re in this thing, and we have to have our best and if he’s one of our best right now then he should be here.”

    Miller’s last start for Memphis was on Friday night, when he pitched six innings against Nashville, allowing five hits and one run. He did not walk a batter, for the seventh time in his last 10 starts, while striking out nine.

    “I think it’s a great compliment to Shelby,” Mozeliak said. “In a lot of ways it reminds me of Matt Morris, who was going through his minor league career and he had sort of a flawless career until he got to Double A. He really hit a wall and then made some adjustments and it’s really like what Shelby did this year. The rest was history for Matt.”

  5. stlouis1baseball - Sep 4, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    Wonderful news! The pitching staff certainly needs the help. This will help offset some of L.L’s issues.
    Assuming Shelby continues pitching as well as he is right now of course.

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