St. Louis Cardinals: Miles Mikolas Can Be a Diamond in the Rough Signing

After a two-year stint in the same Japanese Baseball league as the hottest prospect in Baseball right now, Shohei Ohtani, Miles Mikolas has returned to Major League Baseball.

On Dec. 5, he signed a two-year, $15.5 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.

First to break the move was Yahoo Sports MLB columnist Jeff Passan, who later gave the official details of the deal on Twitter.

The 29-year-old became a star in Nippon Professional Baseball, playing for the Yomiuri Giants. He shined with a 2.18 ERA in his 62 appearances and held a record of 33-13. Over the three seasons, he struck out 378 batters in 424.2 innings pitched. After having a shaky career as a starter during his first go-around in the MLB, he started all 62 games in Japan.  

Mikolas became the first foreign player in NPB history to win 13 straight games, which came between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Mikolas has been reported to have a pitch repertoire of fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, and curveball. His fastball had low 90’s velocity during his major league career.

Mikolas took time to give thanks in a heartfelt message, via his Twitter account, to his home and fans in Japan.  

In joining a deep rotation for the Cardinals, Mikolas will have to fit in between guys like Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, and Luke Weaver. It is up for speculation as to where he will land in the rotation, but if he can produce like he did in Japan, he can contend to be considered as a top pitcher.

As all of the attention is on Ohtani and where he will land, the Cardinals might have found a diamond in the rough. Mikolas has a lot to prove, but can also be a grand addition for St. Louis.

Before going overseas, Mikolas spent three seasons in the majors for the San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers organizations. He was selected by the Padres in the seventh round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft.

He climbed the ladder of the Minor League system, before getting pushed up to the Majors while only being in Double-A. Mikolas made his Major League Debut on May 5, 2012, in a relief appearance against the Miami Marlins. He struck out two but gave up an earned run in the contest.

Mikolas came out of the bullpen in 2012, with 25 appearances and had some, not many, moments of prosperity during that season. He sat down 23 batters on strikes and allowed 13 earned in 32.1 innings pitched.

His 2013 season was spent mostly in the Padres farm system. He returned to the Triple-A level and only made two trips out to the mound in the majors. He pitched in 54 games in 2013 and shut the door for 26 saves.

During his time in San Diego, he was specifically used as a reliever, but once he was traded on Nov. 25, 2013, to Texas, he was transitioned into the rotation.   

As a starter in Texas, he struggled in his 10 starts. He posted a 2-5 record with a high, 6.44 ERA. He nearly led the team with the third most hits per nine innings pitched, with 10.0.

Finally, probably one of my favorite things about Mikolas is well…

Along with the possibility of a comeback. Everyone loves a comeback story, so why can’t it be Mikolas.

Circulating through the news for the Cardinals is the possibility of acquiring Giancarlo Stanton from Miami. If Mikolas lives up to the hype and isn’t used as trade bait for Stanton, St. Louis can be serious contenders coming out of the National League in 2018.

The hype is there, it is up to “The Lizard King” to live up to it.

23-year-old Rutgers Journalism Student.