Cardinals Midseason Report





Best player: Shelby Miller, the 20-year-old righthander, started spring training intent on opening the year in Double-A, and when he eventually got there he backed his prediction with his performance. The Cardinals elected to play it conservative with Miller, starting him in a six-man rotation at high Class A Palm Beach. When he led the Florida State League with 81 strikeouts in 53 innings, he forced the promotion.

Miller, the 19th overall pick out of Brownwood (Texas) High in 2009, went 3-1, 1.69 in his first five starts for Double-A Springfield, and he had 33 strikeouts and eight walks in 32 innings. The Cardinals are stressing to Miller the need to work on his secondary pitches, which includes the makings of a plus changeup, and they expected the Double-A hitters to reinforce that request.

Biggest leap forward: The Cardinals have a crowded thicket of outfielders in the system and little room at the major league level for a newcomer, and yet Andrew Brown was able to hit his way into a cameo in St. Louis. He batted .364/.468/.657 at Triple-A Memphis in May, and that catapulted him into a 11-game turn with the big league club. Brown, 26, has a balanced righthanded bat and the ability to play all three outfield positions with arguably the best arm in the system. His .337/.438/.612 breakout at Memphis hints at a maturing ability to get on base and budding power (12 homers). Brown was an 18th-round selection out of Nebraska in 2007.

Biggest disappointment: Once a top five prospect in the system, catcher Bryan Anderson may be in need of a change of scenery. The lefthanded-hitting catcher rose swiftly through the system but has stalled at Triple-A because his average sunk and his handling of pitchers hasn't improved enough to satisfy the major league coaches. Anderson, 24, was batting .246/.315/.355 for Memphis, where he's been since 2008. He hit .281/.314/.344 in 32 at-bats for St. Louis in 2010.

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• The Cardinals signed first-round pick Kolten Wong to a $1.3 million bonus and shipped him immediately to low Class A Quad Cities to play every day at second base. He had two hits and two RBIs in his debut and was batting .267/.368/.400 with one home run, seven RBIs and six runs scored in 20 at-bats.

• Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals' fast-rising teenage pitching prospect, won his high Class A debut with seven strikeouts in six innings. He received the promotion after going 3-2, 2.33 in eight starts for Quad Cities.