Cards not sending Miller down to Double-A

Cards not sending Miller down to Double-A

ST. LOUIS -- Though top pitching prospect Shelby Miller continues to have his share of struggles in Triple-A, the Cardinals are not currently considering moving Miller back to Double-A, where he thrived in 2011.

The decision to leave Miller in Triple-A is supported by various factors, including the fact that his outings haven't all been as bad as his ERA might indicate. His walk total (28) isn't high, while his strikeouts (70 in 61 1/3 innings) are. The 14 home runs allowed are a concern, but farm director John Vuch described Miller's current struggles as typically concentrated to a few bad pitches per game.

"If some of the peripheral numbers were worse, maybe we'd be more concerned," Vuch said. "But it's not like he's way out of whack. It's just a matter of minimizing mistakes."

Part of that goes back to Miller's use of his secondary pitches. Having blown hitters away with his fastball for years, Miller was challenged in Double-A to incorporate his offspeed pitches more often. That's continued to be a test.

"He's got a very good curve, but it's not as consistent as he'd like," Vuch said. "Sometimes he loses confidences and shies away from using it. The key for him is reducing mistakes, becoming more consistent with his offspeed stuff and having the confidence to throw them."

In 13 Triple-A starts this season, Miller has posted a 5.72 ERA. He has allowed 22 runs in his last 21 innings.

Vuch said the Cardinals have also been encouraged by the way Miller, a first-round Draft pick in 2009, has handled his first taste of trouble in his professional climb. Miller, who had to be disciplined because of unprofessionalism last season, had a combined 3.17 ERA during his first three seasons in the Minors.

"I think it's frustrating at times, but he's handling it as well as he can," Vuch said. "The one good thing is that he's really expressed a willingness to learn. He's being very coachable with working with our staff. I think in the long run it'll be good for him. He's learning now how to develop that relationship with coaches."