TCN 2013 Cardinals Prospect #2: Shelby Miller

Our two-time number one prospect has been dethroned, but the right-hander's high ceiling remains.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
1 RHS 10/10/1990 6-3 207 R R 2009 1st

School: Brownwood High School, Brownwood, Tex.

Selected 2012 stats

MEM 11 10 4.74 4.48 27 27 0 136.2 138 78 24 50 160 0.67 0.260 0.322
StL 1 0 1.32 1.85 6 1 0 13.2 9 2 0 4 16 0.71 0.184 0.273

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (2): If one looks at Shelby Miller's overall 2012 stats, one would think his season was mediocre for a top prospect. The reality is that Miller had two seasons in one. He had a first half that was marred by questions of attitude, issues of conditioning, high walk rates, low strikeout rate, high home run rates and then a second half that had none of those. When I say second half, I mean in particular Miller's last five games in Memphis where he pitched 31 1/3 innings and struck out 44 batters while walking just four.

That kind of performance continued during a September call up and brief playoff appearance with the major league team. By the end of the year, the tarnish to his prospect status had been polished away and he was once again near the very top of team and national top prospect lists.

There are some that are still concerned with his reported attitude issues but those seem to have amazingly disappeared with his late-season improved performance. His conditioning issues may have been a misunderstanding and putting those behind him in 2013 could coincide with even better results.

Miller will be competing for the #6 starter job in St. Louis this spring. However, if there is no immediate need for that #6 starter, then he most likely will open 2013 in the Memphis rotation as the consensus seems to be he will not be used out of the pen in St. Louis in 2013 unless absolutely necessary.

Message board community (2): Miller was second on the community list this year, sliding from first. Miller started the season slowly, with a 4-8 record and 6.17 ERA before the all-star break in Triple-A. But he rallied to a 7-2 record and 2.88 ERA after the break. And he impressed in his 17 (including postseason) major league innings, fanning 20 and allowing only 13 hits and no home runs. In Triple-A, he struck out 160 in 136 2/3 innings.

Miller has been on our radar for a long while, so it is easy to forget he just turned 22 in October. He spent all of 2010 at Class-A Quad Cities, so he hasn't thrown that many innings to advanced batters yet. It appears that his early struggles with Triple-A hitters led him to make some of the adjustments needed for major league success.

I expect him to begin the year back at Triple-A, but he and Trevor Rosenthal should compete for first call up for a righty reliever or a starter. My bet is that Miller would get the call for the rotation and Rosenthal for the bullpen, but time will tell.

It is going to be fun to watch the Memphis rotation, especially if Carlos Martinez begins the year there, as well. With John Gast, Scott Gorgen, and Seth Maness also competing for the Triple-A rotation, I expect a much better year there this year than the Redbirds had in 2012! - Gagliano

Brian Walton (3): As noted above, Miller recovered even better than expected from his dreadful first half. In June, who would have imagined he would toss six innings of one-hit, scoreless ball at the Cincinnati Reds in game #162? Even in a meaningless contest, that was a very impressive finish to Miller's wild regular season.

A rocky road was traveled to get there. Coming off his August 2011 suspension, the fact the organization publicly disclosed their dissatisfaction about Miller's off-season conditioning raised another red flag. Again, the world learned of the Cardinals' need to put in place an unusual "no shake" rule for Miller mid-season. That raised questions about his willingness to accept coaching. Perhaps it is only coincidence, but Miller's results improved markedly shortly after his pitch-changing was prohibited.

In all fairness, the organization appears to be rewarding progress demontrated. After sending signals all season long that Miller would not be added to the 40-man roster and not be called up to St. Louis in 2012, the club changed its mind and did just that.

While Miller's late-season resurrection was surely admirable, the fact that such a major turnaround was required in the first place has to be concerning. Has Miller truly put his issues – whatever their root causes – behind him? Or could these problems reappear down the road?

There is no doubt about Miller's incredible talent. I still worry a bit about the rest, hence my number three ranking.

Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes 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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