Quad Cities Bandits Notebook: 2010 Week 20

This week's report on the Cardinals Midwest League club includes an interview with top prospect Shelby Miller

As reported on this site on Monday, the River Bandits got a bad break this week. Matt Adams has had a sore elbow since the Bandits' series last week in Burlington. Doctors diagnosed it today as a fracture that has ended his season just as we are starting the final stretch to the playoffs. As of Monday night, Matt was still with the team. He will be missed more than we can imagine right now.


In an unusual eight games in one week schedule, the team has struggled to get into the win column but they really haven't looked all that bad. I'm not one to point the finger of blame at pitchers or batters when a team isn't performing well, but this week the club has suffered a lack of offense and sloppy defense from the position players. It's the end of the season and these guys are getting tired, but they are professionals and need to step it up.


Quad Cities lost 3 of 4 in Clinton this week. They are a team who has had the Bandits' number all summer. I'm hoping they don't have to face the Lumberjacks in the first round of the playoffs. The extra game in this week's schedule was a make up game from an earlier rain out. The Bandits split that double header for the only win in that four game series. In that game, Daniel Bibona (Danny) really impressed me. He struck out the side in the first inning and looked very good until the fourth inning when the wheels fell off the wagon and he gave up four runs. The impressive part came in the fifth inning when he again struck out the side. I just don't see many pitchers at this level come back that strong after a shaky inning. I got to talk to him after the game on Friday night and told him that I was impressed. His humble response was, "Well, that's what I'm supposed to do!" I like this guy.


Saturday night at home, the Bandits beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 6-3. Shelby Miller pitched four innings, giving up two runs (both earned) and striking out five. Nick Greenwood got the win coming out of the bullpen for two solid innings. Miller's start had been moved to Saturday from the previously announced Friday start so that the rotation is in place for the playoffs. In the Sunday afternoon heat, the club fell behind early and never recovered.


Monday night, Eric Fornataro didn't have a stellar night, but he threw a good, solid game. I still want to see him have a great game but this was a good game for him, going six solid innings even though he didn't get the win. Alan Ahmady made a comical play at first on the end of a double play when he almost lost the ball, tossed it about four feet above his head, and caught it again before the runner got to first. The Bandits won the Monday game 4-3 in a come from behind victory. The team ended the week 3-5.


The highlight of my week, besides actually seeing six of the eight games, was finally getting my chance to talk with Shelby Miller. He had a slower than expected start this year but has finished his season very strong. Here is what he had to say:


Shelby, thanks for taking a few minutes to talk to me today. First off, where is home for you?


Brownwood, Texas


Where did you go to school?


There's only one school in town—Brownwood High School.


Do you want to give a shout out to anyone at home?


All my family and friends--


And you played for Brownwood High last year?




So, how did you get involved in baseball?


Really, just growing up I always played baseball. I just threw the hardest out of everybody. I found out I was going to have an opportunity when I made varsity my sophomore year and started getting some scholarships my junior year and got drafted my senior year so it just all kind of fell into place for me and it's worked out so far.


Tell us how you were scouted and how you were signed. How did the process go?


It was a grind! Everybody was looking at me. Everybody comes to your house and they tell you what they thought about you and what it would take to sign. You'd always have to take a psych test so with everybody I probably took about 45 of those. It was a long process and it finally got done and draft day came and I got drafted and I've enjoyed it ever since. I'm just glad to be with the Cardinals.


Who is your mentor in the game? Who do you try to be like?


I try to be like myself! I try to follow in the footsteps of Dyar Miller - he's our pitching rover here. He has a lot of advice for me. He taught me that you try to get the perfect game. If you don't get the perfect game, you go for a no-hitter. If you don't get the no-hitter, you try for a shutout. If you don't get the shutout, you still try for the win. So that's kind of how I go about things, on the pitching side of it. I think that's the way to go out there. He's a good pitching coach and he taught me a lot about the game.


If you had to choose, would you rather be the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game in June or win the league finals in September?


I'd rather win the championship, just because I'm a real team player. It's a lot more fun as far as the team. Especially this year, everybody is friends together, we like playing together and no one really has any problems with each other. It would be an awesome opportunity if we got to win it all and get to go to Spring Training next year and have the ring from the Midwest League and get introduced in front of all the players for winning the Championship.


What other Major League teams did you consider?


As far as signing? It really wasn't in my hands. It was just wherever I fell. They told me it would be between 3 and 21. It was whoever drafts me, drafts me. I was just going to be happy playing baseball.


Who was your favorite team when you were growing up?


The Houston Astros. My whole family supported them and I wasn't going to jump on any other bandwagon.


After the games, are there times that fans intrude too much; does it get a little overbearing?


I mean, yeah, you get guys who come up when we're charting in the stands and ask for autographs but it's part of the game. It's better than NOT having people ask for autographs! I enjoy it. Obviously, they are a fan of yours and it's an awesome opportunity to have someone who is admiring you. I'm a professional baseball player and that's a real opportunity and they respect us. Really, I haven't had one bad fan; everybody has been really knowledgeable.


What kind of guidance have you gotten as you made your transition from playing high school ball to being a professional athlete?


Oh, man! I've gotten a lot from Tim Leveque and just on my own. I've really adjusted my game. I really just blew through high school. I think I threw 77 innings and had 150 Ks and here I have 99 and I'm nowhere near 150. It's been an adjustment—my ERA is a lot higher here. It was only ONE in high school. I've just adjusted myself. I'm doing it on my own pretty much.


Thanks! Now, a little about you as a person--what's the best dinner that you cook for yourself?


Really, I don't cook that much. Eric Fornataro cooks for me, usually every night. He makes Chicken and Pesto that's really, really good. He's a really healthy eater so I try to follow what he does.


What's your dream car?


I've already got my dream truck, but my dream car. Probably an old school Shelby GT. Partly because of my name, but it's a little hard to find, and I'm not really big on little cars.


If you were not able to make your professional life in sports, what would you do instead?


I have no idea! If I were going to go to school I was going for ranch management. So I'd probably be like a game warden.  My dad's a firefighter, so I could possibly be a firefighter—something like that. You know, I'm not really big on going to college and getting a degree. I mean, I would, I would love to do that, but I'm playing professional baseball and it's obviously my goal to make it to the big leagues.


Who is here in your professional life to challenge you to be the best that you can?


I'd say that's my grandpa. We talk a lot and he has a lot of guidance for me as far as just being a better person. I try to live life like he lives. He's just a great guy, there's nothing really he can do wrong in my eyes. I just listen to what he has to tell me. He's always there for me. It's the same with my grandma and my whole family.


One last question. What should baseball fans know about you that they probably don't already know?


Hmmm. Well, I'm just a nice guy. A lot of people think I'm cocky, but I'm really not. There's nobody I won't talk to.


Thank you, Shelby.


Next week will be the last regular season report. I can't believe it's here already.


Thanks for reading!



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