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Shelby Miller was a solid starter last year, but he has turned into one of the game's best pitchers in 2013.
A first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009, Shelby Miller has always had high expectations placed upon him. He was always good—recording a 3.73 ERA, 1.277 WHIP and a 3.4-1 ratio of strikeouts to walks in the minor leagues—but he has been nothing short of phenomenal with the Cardinals this year.
In 13 starts, Miller is 7-4 with a 2.21 ERA and 0.971 WHIP. His strikeout numbers are even more impressive, as he's averaging more than 10 per nine innings and 5.35 for every walk surrendered.
Miller will probably level out somewhere around a 3.00 ERA, but he has solidified his place in the Cardinals rotation.
Everth Cabrera has spent parts of five seasons in the major leagues with the San Diego Padres, but if you have never heard him before, you are not alone.
Cabrera entered the season as a career .240 hitter with above-average speed. Through 66 games this year, he sports a .295 average and leads the league in stolen bases with 30. The Padres have locked him in atop their batting order, and he leads the league in plate appearances.
Cabrera's current numbers are more in line with his minor league career, and he should remain a bright spot for the otherwise middling Padres all season.
Another minor leaguer who has had a big impact since getting regular playing time in the majors this season is Jose Iglesias, whom the Boston Red Sox signed as an amateur free agent in 2009.
In parts of four minor league seasons, Iglesias hit just .257. Before getting the call to Boston this year, he was batting .202 at Triple-A Pawtucket and looked like a short-term replacement on the Boston bench. But he has made the most of his opportunity with a .449 average, .494 on-base percentage and .577 slugging percentage in 24 games for the Sox.
Obviously, Iglesias is not the next Ted Williams, and it's only a matter of time before a prolonged slump brings his numbers back to earth.
Another Rex Sox player who has played above expectations is John Lackey. After two dismal seasons in Boston—and one lost season due to Tommy John surgery—Lackey is finally pitching up to his contract this year.
In 10 starts this season, he's only 3-5, but he has lowered his ERA to 3.14, which is more in line with his career numbers before 2009. Lackey is also striking out 8.2 hitters per nine innings, his best ratio since 2005.
This is the pitcher Red Sox Nation was hoping for when former GM Theo Epstein signed him four years ago, and this is the pitcher they can expect the rest of this season.