Results tagged ‘ shelby miller ’

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

Draft Day Part II

I know, I know. The draft was more than two months ago. But with the signing deadline having past last night, many of the first round picks just signed. It almost feels like Draft Part II.

Of course Stephen Strasburg – now a Washington National – made the biggest headlines, inking a record $15.1 million major league contract with a record $7.5 million signing bonus. Yipes. I guess now he can upgrade from that Schwinn now. Those kind of dollar figures are pretty mind boggling, aren’t they? And I can’t believe people are calling for him to be in the big leagues later this year. Sounds like a great way to take a $15.8 million investment and increase the odds that he flames out if you ask me.

I think a lot of people were surprised that there were only three first-rounders that didn’t sign, one of which – Aaron Crow – was not beholden to the same signing deadline in his negotiations with the Royals.

Of course, in our world, the biggest signing was that of St. Louis Cardinals’ first-rounder Shelby Miller. The St. Louis Cardinals made a bold move by picking him in the first place. Though they grabbed the flame-throwing righty at No. 19 overall, the only reason the talented high schooler dropped that far was because teams were scared off by perceived bonus demands. That marked an agressive move by an organization that had been criticized for playing it safe and electing to draft lower-risk, lower-ceiling prospects in recent drafts. I’m not sure I buy into that criticism, but that’s certainly what was flying around the papers in St. Louis.

In signing Miller for $2.875 million, the Cardinals took a high ceiling prospect with front-of-the-rotation potential. They had to go above slot to sign him, but came in well below the reported $4 million he was asking for. We’re talking about a guy that was rated by Baseball America as the 7th-rated right-handed pitcher in the entire draft. He went 10-2 as a high school senior in Brownwood, Texas, posting a 1.90 ERA while racking up 153 strikeouts in just 77 innings.

And while he likely won’t be able to pitch this season, the ace-of-the-future could very well be wearing a River Bandits uniform in 2010.