It's common during the dog days of summer for a team short of starting pitchers to call up a hot minor leaguer to make his major league debut, but the Daniel Poncedeleon saga is anything but typical.
Poncedeleon was pitching for Triple-A Memphis in May of last year when a line drive struck him in the right temple and put his career -- and life -- in jeopardy. But after weeks in intensive care and months of inactivity, he began working out and building up to a return. By February, he had progressed so much that St. Louis invited him to its big league spring training camp.
For Memphis this season, Poncedeleon has a 9-3 record, a 2.15 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 92 innings. He won his last four starts, including a one-hitter in his last appearance on July 15 -- the first complete-game shutout of his five minor league seasons.
He was called up last month, but the Cardinals sent him back down after three games in which he didn't see action.
On July 11, he pitched one inning for the Pacific Coast League in the Triple-A all-star game, and against the heart of the International League order, he struck out all three hitters.
It's been a momentous first seven months of the year for reasons beyond Poncedeleon's remarkable comeback and advancement, too. He and wife Jennifer were married in February.