(BASEBALL StL) - It's annoying, I get it. Listening to people talk about how some teenager is the next great this or that. I mean, really? How in the world are we supposed to accurately predict what some kid in high school is going to do over the next 15 to 20 years of their life athletically?
Especially for someone who is given worlds of talent, there will be distractions along the way. Lots and lots and lots of distractions. Listening to people all over the place tell you that you're the greatest thing in the world? Having cousins you never knew you had beg you for money?
Those distractions are everywhere. And they can easily derail someone from a career full of promise. Hence, it's hard to predict the future.
But sometimes, just sometimes, we get one right. Sometimes things work out just how they're supposed to. Sometimes the talent everyone saw turns out to be just as pure and genuine as you once believed.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you 22-year-old flame thrower Shelby Miller.
From the day he was selected in the first round way back in 2009 he had more hype surrounding him than any pitching prospect since Rick Ankiel. Anything less than pure and total dominance would've been a letdown. Actually, scratch that. Anything less than pure and total dominance would've been a failure.
That's what happens when you bill someone to be the next Roger Clemens or Josh Beckett or Nolan Ryan. It's unfair but such is life. These are the distractions one must deal with nowadays.
After blitzing through A-Quad Cities, A-Palm Beach and AA-Springfield, Miller experience a first last year in AAA-Memphis. Instead, he experienced extreme turbulence. As in, an ERA north of 6.00 at the All Star break. But quite possibly the greatest blessing in disguise taught him that he can't do this alone and he needs to listen to what the coaches tell him.
That lesson in humility has brought him to where he is today. He's one of the next young great pitchers in Major League baseball. Did you see him flat out crush the Rockies the last time out? Have you seen the way his fastball sneaks up on hitters at the dish? Do you see the types of goofy swings his stuff elicits?
It's nothing short of that pure and total dominance we came to, albeit unfairly, expect.
You don't construct a 1.58 ERA through 45 and two-thirds innings without that. You don't walk just 11 batters while striking out 51 without it. And you most certainly don't have a 0.88 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) without dominating.
It's impossible to predict how things will go in Shelby Miller's seemingly bright future. Big league hitters are big league hitters for a reason. They make adjustments to pitching talent and find out what they want to do before capitalizing on their weaknesses. Some adversity is coming for the rookie. How he responds to it and adjusts back to these hitters will go a long way in showing just what type of career he can have.
But for right now? For the first couple months of his big league career? For the start of what's been an unfairly hyped beginning? Let's just say Miller's passed each and every one of those tests.
And then some.