Posted on September 9, 2010 on Rising Redbirds
The Cardinals' most prized Minor Leaguer came through in the clutch Wednesday night when the Quad Cities River Bandits took on the Kane County Cougars. Quad Cities won the game 4-0 behind the most impressive start of Shelby Miller‘s young professional career.
Miller struck out a career-high 13 in seven innings of work while only allowing two hits, one walk, and no runs.
“He was putting the ball wherever he wanted it,” Quad Cities catcher Robert Stock said. “The first time through the lineup, it was his fastball, but then he integrated his off-speed pitches and everything was working.”
The 2009 first-round draft pick has done something most young pitchers never do in their first couple seasons—perform better as the season goes on. Typically, especially with pitchers drafted out of high school, the player will run out of gas come July or August. Not Shelby Miller.
In the first half of the season, Miller went 1-3 with a 4.79 ERA and a .265 opponent’s batting average. Since then, he’s gone 7-2 with a 2.46 ERA while managing to lower the average 50 points. That’s not the most impressive evidence though. In fact, Miller’s strikeout rate has gone up as the season progresses, and his walk rate has actually gone down.
Some have credited his recent success to Miller being selected for the All-Star Futures Game in Anaheim.
“I played out there against Double-A and Triple-A hitters,” Miller said. “It boosted my confidence a lot. I kept the ball low and got two ground balls. You keep it low, you’ll get ground balls, and the strikeouts will come. I’ve been doing that in the second half. You can tell the difference, that’s for sure. I’m getting used to the game. I’ve had an awesome second half. The first half had its ups and downs. Second half, I’ve been cruising along, going deeper into games. I’m getting adapted to professional ball.”
The Quad Cities coaching staff has done a fantastic job of monitoring the fireballer throughout the year, and it is definitely starting to show. Overall, in 25 starts this season, Miller is 8-5 with a 3.41 ERA, 2.65 FIP, and a 1.189 WHIP. Per nine innings, Shelby is averaging 0.5 home runs and 12.4 strikeouts. SO/BB is another stat I like to look at when evaluating young pitchers, and Miller sports a very respectable 4.64 rate.
What I find most interesting about Miller’s numbers is his home/away stats. While playing in front of his home crowd in Quad Cities, he has a 3.11 FIP, 33 percent GB rate, and gives up 0.89 HR per nine innings. Comparing those some statistics to his road starts, you’ll find quite the change as his 2.29, 47 percent, 0.27 line is much better.
For Shelby Miller’s prospect profile, click here.
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