Baseball America recently released its Top 10 prospects for each team in the National League Central. The Redbirds were well represented, with three players from their 2012 roster in the Cardinals’ Top 10, along four others that are expected to make an appearance in Memphis during the 2013 season.
Optimism is flowing throughout the Cardinals’ organization, particularly in regards to pitching depth towards the top of the ranks. The Cardinals have had great success developing homegrown talent in recent years, with 11 of the 15 players who appeared in Game Five of the National League Championship Series having started their careers in the Cardinals’ organization. These recent pool of prospects has increased the positive outlook for the future of the club.
Today we’ll begin a closer look at the three Redbirds Top Prospects:
#2 Shelby Miller
Currently the top pitching prospect and the top prospect in the Cardinals’ organization the previous three years, Miller has the opportunity to win a spot on the big league roster this coming spring. He will be competing against former Redbirds Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal for the No. 5 starting spot with the Cardinals and two spots in the starting rotation for the Redbirds.
Baseball America described his fastball as “overpowering” with “late, heavy movement” that is complimented by a “plus curveball and developing changeup.” Miller struggled in his first 17 starts with the Redbirds in 2012, going 4-8 with a 6.17 ERA. However, he turned things around in his final 57.0 innings pitched, posting a 7-2 record and a 2.88 ERA while compiling a 70-7 strikout-to-walk ratio. His 160 strikeouts in 2012 set a new Redbirds record. Miller’s late-season success earned him a call-up to the pro club in September.
Miller took advantage of his time with the pro club, where he made one start and five appearances in relief. Four of his five games out of the bullpen were scoreless before he was given the chance to start on October 3 against the Cincinnati Reds. His start concluded after 6.0 scoreless innings, in which Miller allowed only one hit and two walks while striking out seven. His success at the Major League level earned him a spot on the Cardinals’ postseason roster. He made two appearances out of the bullpen in the National League Championship Series, allowing two runs in 1.1 innings in Game 2 and pitching 2.0 scoreless innings in Game 6.
Miller, who was named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week twice as a member of the Redbirds in 2012, had his best professional season in 2011, when he split time between Advanced-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield. He concluded the 2011 campaign with a combined record of 11-6 with a 2.77 ERA in 25 starts, striking out 170 and holding opposing hitters to a .219 batting average. Miller was named the Cardinals’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011 for the second year in a row. He was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the 1st round (19th overall) in the 2009 June Draft and signed the second-largest bonus in club history behind only J.D. Drew in 1998.
Check in tomorrow at 2:30pm for a closer look at the Cardinals No. 4 prospect and former Redbird, pitcher Trevor Rosenthal.
Photo credits: Allison Rhoades/Memphis Redbirds