2011 Cardinals Prospect #1 – Shelby Miller

Where will the St. Louis Cardinals' top 2009 pick start in 2011 and how long will he take to reach the majors? The 20-year-old assumes Jaime Garcia's throne as our top prospect in the system.

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2010 and career stats)

2010 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
2 RHS 10/10/1990 6-3 207 R R 2009 1

School: Brownwood High School, Texas

Selected 2010 stats

QC 7 5 3.62 24 24 0 104 97 51 7 33 140 0.94 0.243

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Dustin Mattison (1): All the number one ranked prospect on our list did in 2010 was perform like a number one prospect. Playing the whole season at the Quad Cities, Miller posted a K/9 rate of 12.08 and an exceptional BB/9 rate of 2.85. His FIP was a respectable 2.42 and he even represented the Cardinals at the Futures Game.

Miller pitches on a downhill plane and uses his mid-90's fastball to get ahead of hitters. His curveball and changeup are inconsistent but definitely have the makings of plus pitches.

Miller is as untouchable as a prospect gets in the Cardinals farm system. He projects as a future number one starter and should be ready when Chris Carpenter's contract is up in 2013.

Message board community (1): Shelby Miller was a near unanimous #1 pick by the community as the number one prospect. Though he struggled early based on some statistics, after a mid-season break he was dominant in the second half by almost any measure. Miller's numbers are all the more impressive given that he was somewhat unlucky with an above average BABAIP.

There is little to say about Miller that the numbers don't say. Great fastball, improving curve and change up. The only questions left are where he will play in 2011 and when he should arrive in Saint Louis. While some think he could start 2011 in Springfield, I am of the opinion that the Cards will keep him Palm Beach for 6-8 weeks before moving him to Springfield. This is not because he is not ready for Double-A ball but I think the Cards will cover their backsides against accusations they moved him too fast in case he falters. I also think they may want him to get some time with Dennis Martinez who will be at Palm Beach this year.

As to when Miller will arrive in St. Louis may depend as much on other pitchers as himself. The earliest I would expect to see him would be mid-2012 but with the entire Cardinals starting staff under control through 2012 and others such as Lynn and Walters in the wings there may not be a starting spot open for him until 2013. However, even if no starting spot is available, I could see the Cardinals letting him pitch some relief with the big club in the second half of 2012 (ala Adam Wainwright) in preparation for him starting in 2013. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (1): It is encouraging to have a true high-ceiling pitcher in the top prospect ranks again. The Cardinals have taken the rap for having focused more on known quantity with lower ceiling than higher risk top quality in their recent picks, but Miller demonstrates the organization is willing to take chances. Whether it is right or wrong, Miller carries the flag for the entire player development organization, just as Colby Rasmus did once.

Miller's 2010 manager with Quad Cities, Johnny Rodriguez, was more focused on the pitcher refining his game beyond his trademark mid-90's fastball with good movement this past summer. After all, even the system's consensus top prospect has room to improve.

"Miller's got to get better with the off-speed to complement that fastball – to make that fastball look even better," the manager explained. "We've been working with him to get a better breaking ball, sharpness, and changeup. He has to be committed to his breaking ball and changeup because he's got the power fastball with life that explodes down in the zone. But guys will sit on it, the higher levels you go, you can't get away with it. He has enough."

All indications are that Miller definitely has enough of what it takes, all right.

To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2011 and read about each individual player, click here. You can also learn more about each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections and much more.

Next up: This article series continues as we put the three voters' lists side by side and look at this year's top 40 movers and shakers. Next, each of the voters highlights the players on our personal lists that did not make the 2011 combined top 40. We move on to our All-Prospect Team, the highest-ranked players at each position, a dive into the numbers behind the top 40 and finally a look back at our best and worst picks from last year's top 40.

There's more! Want access to the all details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects" feature here at The Cardinal Nation?

Subscribe by January 21 to our annual pass and receive in the spring the 2011 FOX Fantasy Guide / Scout Prospect Guide, the perfect hardcopy companion to "Forty Days", including the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

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