It can be very difficult for some minor league ballplayers to live up to the expectations of a number one prospect. During the month of July, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Shelby Miller didn’t just deal with that tag. He seemed to thrive on it.
The young right-hander made five starts during the month and posted a record of 3-1. Miller logged an ERA of 1.80 while allowing his opponents an average of .206. In 25 innings, he struck out an eye-catching 34 while walking a very respectable four batters. He gave up only 19 hits and five earned runs.
During his last start on July 26, the Texan made his longest outing as a pro. He worked seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits and striking out five.
On the season, the 19-year-old is now 4-4 with a 3.63 ERA in 17 games. He has an incredible 94 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings while allowing 21 walks.
P.J. Walters definitely gave Miller a run for his money. During July, the right-hander posted a similar 3-1 record to go with his 2.05 ERA. In 30 2/3 innings, he racked up 32 strikeouts while allowing six walks. Walters' month was highlighted by a nine strikeout performance on July 6. The 25-year-old also made a big league appearance, spinning two shutout innings at Chicago.
Another pitcher making several big league appearances is Memphis’ Fernando Salas. The reliever had five outings with the big league club while making six appearances at Triple-A. For the Redbirds, he saved six games while allowing a single earned run. In 7 2/3 innings, Salas struck out 10 while issuing only three free passes.
Springfield reliever Adam Reifer has struggled with his control in the past. During the month of July, those struggles seem to be behind him. In 10 2/3 innings, Reifer allowed only one walk while striking out 11. The 24-year-old picked up two victories and three saves while posting a 1.69 ERA.
Two of Miller’s teammates have followed his lead and stepped up their game during the month. Mike Blazek picked up a victory while posting a 1.59 ERA in seven appearances for the Quad Cities. In 17 innings, he collected 18 strikeouts while walking only one.
Fellow River Bandit Joe Kelly seems to be making the adjustment to the starting rotation. During July, the former college closer went 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA. In 28 2/3 innings, he racked up 32 strikeouts highlighted by an 11-strikeout performance during his last outing.
After toiling for a couple seasons in the system, Zack Russell is finally making prospect watchers take notice. The 21-year-old pitched 18 innings for the Muckdogs and allowed an anemic 0.50 ERA while striking out 27 hitters.
Batavia closer Jose Rada picked up three victories during the month while racking up seven saves. The Venezuelan struck out 21 in 14 2/3 innings while holding opponents to a .122 average.
While waiting for a visa to enter the USA, 18-year-old Carlos Matias continues to dominate Dominican Summer League hitters. The right-hander fanned 26 and walked five in 21 July innings. Matias allowed just two earned runs for an ERA of 0.86.
Coming up: Check back here at The Cardinal Nation on Sunday for our corresponding Player of the Month selection and honorable mentions for July.
Previous winners: Click on the highlighted links to be taken to earlier articles.
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