It’s time to start getting really excited about Cardinals pitching prospect Shelby Miller.
The 2009 first-round draft pick made his home debut for Double-A Springfield on Friday night, striking out nine batters in six strong innings of work.
Miller had eight punch-outs through his first three innings and looked to be cruising, but shoddy defense gave way to three opposing runs — two of which were earned — in his final three frames. He was pulled after throwing 97 pitches.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was in Springfield on Friday for the debut and had a series of observations in his Saturday report on the outing. Miller hit 97 MPH with his first fastball of the night and hung right around the low- to mid-90s the entire outing. He didn’t feature many breaking pitches, but the ones he did throw were effective. He’s expected to begin working on finding a more balanced arsenal in his time at Double-A.
Miller, 20, now has 14 strikeouts in 12 innings since earning his promotion to Springfield. He had 81 Ks in 53 innings this year at Single-A Palm Beach and fanned 140 batters across 104.1 innings in 2010.
If everything continues to go according to plan, Miller could be in the majors by mid-2012. ESPN’s Keith Law recently ranked him the fourth-best prospect in baseball and he stands a good chance of becoming an ace.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: