I’ll be making my third trip of the year to Quad Cities to watch some prospects this weekend. Once again, the starting pitching rotation has foiled me as Shelby Miller started last night and will not pitch again until next week after I’ve left.
Miller has lived up to the hype this year but I’m not sure how many people realize just how good he’s been. In 104 innings, Miller has struck out 140 batters, which easily leads the team despite having two pitchers with more innings than Miller. In fact, Miller has the most strikeouts of any pitching prospect in the system.
Lance Lynn has thrown 159 innings but only has 134 strikeouts. Nick Additon has 109 in 150 innings. And Kevin Thomas leads with 94 punchouts in 107 innings at Palm Beach. Now, not all of those players are strikeout pitchers, but give Miller his due. He’s simply outclassed Midwest League hitters.
But this wouldn’t be the first time someone is effectively wild and walks a ton of batters while striking out gaudy numbers. Except that’s not the case with Miller either. He’s sporting a 4:1 K:BB raito with just 33 walks. So to date, he’s shown that at least he can control his pitches (the fastball at a minimum).
If there’s an area to pick on Miller, it’s that he doesn’t generate groundballs. This seems like highlighting a weakness to try and dim what is, in reality, a bright star in the system at the moment. He’s the next test of whether or not different pitching styles are acceptable as he’s unlike anything or anyone in the system since Anthony Reyes was strikeout king of our minor league system.
So, despite a limited number of innings, Miller’s 2010 campaign has to be considered wildly successful. He’s still got plenty to work on for the future — I’m told the change still needs a heap of work — and I don’t expect the club to start him anywhere other than Palm Beach next year. If he progresses faster than one level a year, that’s gravy because he’s doing everything that can be expected of him at the moment.
Unfortunately, I won’t have the priveledge of watching him this weekend. I will get to see Daniel Bibona (2010 draft) for the first time and Joe Kelly for the first time live. I saw Kelly’s televised start earlier in the year and thought he looked impressive. I’ve got high expectations for him this weekend as well. Quad Cities here I come!