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."
Cards have strategy for signing Draft picks
ST. LOUIS -- Friday's signing of Carson Kelly, a second-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, provided additional insight into the Cardinals' financial strategy for adhering to new Draft bonus restrictions put in place in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement.
A source confirmed that Kelly passed on a scholarship to the University of Oregon for a $1.6 million signing bonus, the second-largest bonus the club has handed out to a 2012 Draftee. First-rounder Michael Wacha signed for $1.9 million.
Kelly's bonus was nearly three times the recommended slot value of the 86th overall pick ($574,300). Not only is that figure a recommended starting point for negotiation, but it also goes into a sum that gives the club an overall allotment.
Based on the recommended values of each of their first 14 picks, the Cardinals have $9.1307 million to divide among the players they took in the first 10 rounds. How much goes to each selection is up to the organization's discretion, though the Cardinals prepared themselves before Draft day to know what various player expectations were.
"Signability was a key part of our due diligence this year," scouting director Dan Kantrovitz said. "You don't know entirely what to expect until you engage in negotiations, but our scouts did a really good job of knowing what these guys were looking for. And that's key. We didn't want to be in a situation where we were surprised."
There are penalties for going over that limit, including the loss of future Draft picks. However, there is also some wiggle room. Teams can exceed their bonus pool by up to 5 percent without being penalized a pick. Any club who goes over their pool by 0-5 percent is simply taxed 75 percent of that overage.
For the Cardinals, that gives them an additional $456,535 to work with, if they decide the financial penalty is worth an investment in a player.
As it stands now, though, the Cardinals seem to have positioned themselves well with their strategy. Kelly is the first signee to exceed his recommended slot figure. Another eight players taken in the first round have also already signed with the Cardinals, and five agreed to a signing bonus below their respective recommended slot number.
Those savings totaled $728,610. When combined with the $1.0257 million the Cardinals spent above-slot on Kelly, the organization currently has a total overage of just $297,090.
While the Cardinals will likely save this money through later signings, that overage also still falls within that 0-5 percent cushion that would not cost the club a future Draft selection.
Of the Cardinals' first 14 picks, five remain unsigned. That number is expected to reduce this weekend, as third baseman Stephen Piscotty is set to travel to St. Louis to sign his contract. Piscotty was taken in the compensation round as the 36th overall pick. He is not expected to command an over-slot bonus.
Right-hander Carlos Martinez will make his Double-A debut for Springfield on Friday night. Martinez last pitched on May 14, when he was still in the Class A Palm Beach rotation. The Cardinals put Martinez on the disabled list when the 20-year-old alerted them to some minor soreness in his throwing arm.
During that time off, Martinez moved to Springfield so that he could become acclimated with the new location. He'll be limited in pitch count for these first few Double-A starts, but will then have no restrictions for the remainder of the season.
Catcher Cody Stanley, who missed the first 50 games of the season after violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, is out for a minimum of five weeks after dislocating his right thumb. In between the suspension and the injury, Stanley was able to appear in seven games for Palm Beach.
While Stanley is expected to return before the end of the Minor League season, the Cardinals also plan to find him a place in a fall or winter ball league to make up for the time he's missing this season.
Tyrell Jenkins, who has been sitting since throwing six shutout innings on June 2, is expected to return to the Class A Quad Cities rotation after the four-day Midwest League All-Star break, which begins on Monday.
Jenkins' situation is similar to that of Martinez. While an MRI exam showed no structural damage in Jenkins' right shoulder, the Cardinals took the opportunity to get Jenkins some rest when he informed the Quad Cities staff of some minor discomfort.
Center fielder Jon Jay hit off soft toss on Friday, which represented another step forward in his return from a right shoulder injury. Jay, who said afterward that he felt great, anticipates hitting off soft toss again on Saturday, and possibly taking batting practice as early as Sunday.
If all goes well, Jay said he expects to be cleared to go on a Minor League rehab assignment next week. He has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 16.
Right-hander Chris Carpenter threw another bullpen session on Friday. It marked the second time Carpenter has pitched off the mound since being shut down in early March due to a nerve irritation issue in his right shoulder. Carpenter will throw several more side sessions before progressing to a next step.
Finally recovered from a stomach virus that landed him in the hospital for about 10 hours early Thursday morning, Carlos Beltran was back in the lineup and starting in center field on Friday. He was also facing his former team for the first time in his career. Beltran, who was drafted by the Royals, played in Kansas City from 1998 until he was traded to the Astros in June 2004.
After snapping an 0-for-23 streak with an eighth-inning single on Thursday, Rafael Furcal was out of the lineup for Friday's series opener. Manager Mike Matheny has been looking to give Furcal a day off for a while after starting him in 17 straight games. Taking Furcal's place at shortstop was Tyler Greene. Daniel Descalso hit in the leadoff spot.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.