In preparation for the 2011 season, MLB.com recently announced their picks for the preseason Top 50 Prospects list. Breaking into the list for the first time was Shelby Miller, RHP for the Cardinals. Miller came in at the number 20 spot overall, ranked number seven among right-handed pitchers.
It is encouraging to see the Cardinals farm system receive this kind of recognition. The Cardinals did not have any prospects on the list last year. The last time that they had someone from their farm system on the list, they had two, Colby Rasmus and Brett Wallace. Rasmus was ranked 10th on the list and Wallace 42nd two years ago, going into the 2009 season.
The Cardinals drafted Shelby Miller out of high school in the first round of the 2009 draft, and so far it seems like this investment is really starting to pay off. Let’s take a look at the kid’s resume.
A little over two years ago, Miller started making some noise. And scouts from various MLB teams began to listen. The senior attending high school in Brownwood, Texas was coming off of the best season of his career. In his junior year, Miller threw three no-hitters, one of them being a five-inning perfect game in which he struck out 14 of 15 batters! Now, in his senior year, Miller was finally beginning to gain some recognition, and what MLB scouts loved most was his six-foot, four-inch, and 195-pound physique. He would finish out his high school career with a total of four no-hitters, giving scouts a lot to be interested in heading into the draft.
Entering the 2009 draft, Miller was expected to be picked anywhere from the 15-20 spot overall. When he fell all the way to the 19 spot, the Cardinals were quite happy to take him. They felt that he would be a great future addition to their rotation.
Miller excelled greatly in his first year as a Quad Cities River Bandit, one of the Cardinals’ affiliate teams. In his
2010 season, the Righty went 7-5 in 24 appearances. Over the span of 104.1 innings, he allowed 42 earned runs, making for an average of 3.62 per nine innings. Miller has always been known for his fastball. He is able to throw it comfortably at about 94 mph, and he has been clocked throwing it as fast as 98 mph. His fastball also has decent movement.
Miller also has a great slider, which he throws at about 87 mph, and a nasty breaking ball which he uses as his out pitch.
When he was being scouted in 2009, the following were listed as weaknesses for Miller in one scouting report: his change-up, his command, and his mechanics. While monitoring the youngster’s innings pitched in 2010, his pitching coach at Quad Cities has worked with him to improve these weaknesses. All of this work cumulated in a stellar playoff start for the then 20-year old. Going seven innings in a 4-0 win for the Bandits, Miller struck out 13 while only giving up two hits and one walk.
After an impressive 2010 year, the Cardinals 2010 minor league pitcher of the year will look to continue his great pitching in the 2011 season. He will most likely pitch for the Class A Palm Beach Cardinals. It is huge for the Cardinals to know that they have this kind of production coming out of their farm system, regardless of whether Miller ends up being traded or if he someday replaces Chris Carpenter on the Cards’ starting rotation.