Jay Earns Chance To Shine





BEST PLAYER: Long lauded as a fourth outfielder who could hit for a high average at any level, Jon Jay not only arrived as a capable fill-in for right fielder Ryan Ludwick but also as a reason the Cardinals could deal Ludwick. Jay hit .431/.500/.667 in 23 games in July, and he finished the season as the Cardinals' everyday right fielder.
 
A second-round pick in 2006, Jay had a reputation for a balanced swing and quirky mechanics in the lower levels. Manager Tony La Russa saw Jay during one of his first spring trainings, noticed the constant, churning movement of his hands before he swung and felt there "wasn't a chance" he'd hit in the majors. Jay reworked his stance and calmed his hands in 2009, and he hit .321/.394/.491 at Triple-A Memphis this season before earning his big league promotion.

Jay drew raves for his instinct, and that feel for the game coupled with good speed not only added to his range in the outfield but added to his fit ahead of Albert Pujols as the No. 2 hitter.

BEST PITCHER: The team's top prospect had a season to back up the expectations.

Righthander Shelby Miller spent the summer with low Class A Quad Cities and helped power the River Bandits to the playoffs. He went 7-5, 3.62 in 24 starts, and his overpowering fastball was enough to strike out 140 in 104 innings. He showed advanced control for his age, walking 33, and Miller began honing his offspeed pitches enough to use as more than just opening acts for the heat.

KEEP AN EYE ON: A 13th-round pick and fourth-year senior coming out of TCU in 2009, third baseman Matt Carpenter climbed levels quickly in his first pro summer. But only when he stopped moving did his profile ascend.
 
Carpenter, 24, hit .316/.412/.487 in 105 games for Double-A Springfield. His power finally manifested and ahead of him, opportunity opened. David Freese's injury coupled with thin depth at third means Carpenter could get a long look at spring training for an organization craving an infield prospect on the verge of the majors.

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• Rookie-level Johnson City won its first Appy League championship since 1976. Third baseman Phillip Cerreto hit .425/.460/.758 with 38 RBIs in 32 games for the Cardinals on their way to the title.

• Outfielder Tommy Pham missed the postseason with a busted hand but his 2010 put him back on the radar. Pham hit .339/.429/.537 in 38 games with Double-A Springfield, and with his athleticism he took over the center field job.