Shelby Miller fans nine in six-inning home debut at Double-A

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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.

Danny Duffy exits spring training game with left shoulder tightness

Danny Duffy
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Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.

The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.

The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.