Ace in the Hole
On Wednesday, the Quad Cities River Bandits met Shelby Miller. You can hear his interview at the bottom of this blog entry. For those of you that are reading that name for the first time, here’s a quick recap:
An 18-year-old fireballer from Brownwood, Texas – “right in the middle of the state,” as he says – Shelby was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Two months later he signed on the dotted line for a cool $2.875 million, the kind of money reserved for top of the line talents. Word is that he was considered a top 10 guy, and the Cardinals were fortunate that he was still available at pick 19 because some teams shied away from his bonus demands.
A four-seam fastball that hits 98 mph with movement and a curveball that projects to be a plus major league pitch down the road tends do increase a guys draft stock. Shelby also throws a sinker and a changeup that he didn’t need to use much in high school, but Cardinals pitching coordinator Dyar Miller told me that in his bullpen at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, both pitches possessed pretty good movement.
As it stands now, here is the plan. And rest assured, these plans have a habit of changing early and often. But as of now, the plan is for Shelby to throw another side session today and then a third one on Saturday and a batting practice session next Monday in Clinton. If all goes well, that would leave him on track to throw about 30 pitches in his professional debut at Modern Woodmen Park on Thursday, September 3, and 40-45 pitches a few days later in the season finale on September 7.
By the way, one of the reasons this is a big deal – besides the fact that he is a first-round pick with high expectations – is that he was in high school just a few months ago. You don’t see a lot of high school draft picks making their pro debuts at the full-season level. Even first-rounders like Colby Rasmus and Pete Kozma, high school selections in 2005 and 2007, respectively, spent their draft summers in short-season ball before reaching the Quad Cities the following season. I think that speaks to just how highly the Cardinals think of Shelby, and how much potential they believe he truly possesses.
One last note. The coolest thing about Shelby’s last couple of days, including his introduction to the Cardinals “family” in St. Louis on Tuesday? He said it was the surreal experience of meeting John Smoltz in the Busch Stadium clubhouse. I can see that. But how could that be cooler than getting a ride from St. Louis with Dyar Miller himself??? To be a fly on the wall in that car!
And finally, here is my interview with Shelby from before Wednesday night’s game, after he met the River Bandits for the first time in Peoria:
082609 – Shelby Miller.WMA