Cardinals Farm Report

Shelby Miller
Starting Pitcher
A-Quad Cities
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 195 lbs
Drafted by the Cardinals in the 1st round (19th pick) of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft
Just like every Saturday here on i70baseball, the Cardinal Farm Report spotlights one of the prized Cardinal minor leaguers. This week, it is Shelby Miller, the best prospect pitcher the Cardinals have had since Rick Ankiel.

I was trying to hold this one off as long as possible, but I can only do prospect profiles for so long until I spotlight this guy. To put it very simply, Shelby Miller is the top prospect in the Cardinals farm system, and one of the best pitching prospects the organization has ever had.

Miller was the 19th overall player to be selected in the 2009 MLB Draft and was considered by some to be the best prep arm in the draft. At the very least, his fastball was certainly the best. While he usually has it around 93-94 mph, his MLB-ready fastball tops out at 98 and reaches 97 consistently. Not only does it light up the radar gun, it also has amazing, late, natural sink to it that makes it virtually unhittable to minor league batters.

The rest of his repertoire includes a good, biting slider, a plus curve with natural 12-6 movement on it, and a decent changeup. His slider may be his best secondary pitch at the moment, but from what I have heard, Miller’s curveball could be brutal to hitters if he can control it. It comes in at 77-80 mph and, if pollished, could be fooling hitters for the next several years.

Like most first round pitchers that are drafted out of high school, Miller is a very raw talent but has all the talent anybody could ask for. The Cardinals organization believes he’s the first potential ace selected under Jeff Luhnow. The kid has the upside to become a 5 WAR starting pitcher (staff ace), his skill-set just needs to be refined.

Drafting any player, especially a pitcher, out of high school is extremely risky. Because of that, the Cardinals are going to be VERY careful with him. Miller has pitched all season for the mid-level Single-A Quad Cities River Bandits, and I would expect him to stay there for the remaining month. Depending on how things go, I think we could see Miller finish up the season with Double-A Springfield. The earliest Cardinal Nation would see him take the mound in St. Louis will likely be 2013. I would expect him to make his debut then, if everything goes to plan. Come 2014 however, Miller very well could be a regular in the Cardinals rotation.

Quad Cities has Miller on a very strict pitching schedule this season, and a very unique one at that. Basically, the team wants Miller to work on his secondary pitches during games. Which means Miller’s 6-5 record, 3.84 ERA, 11.7 SO/9 is being acheived without him using his best pitch, the already MLB-caliber fastball. That is pretty impressive.

That’s not the extent of it though. The club actually has Miller limited to a 70-80 pitch count (roughly five innings) so he can pitch more in-between starts to keep his dominating fastball where it has been.

Not throwing his fastball during starts and relying on his breaking pitches is the main reason his ERA has been a little higher than what fans want to see (if you can call a 3.84 ERA “high”).

The Cardinals have been hit-and-miss with prospects in the past, but I can assure you that Shelby Miller is the real deal. He’s the classic big, strong, tough-minded, competitive Texas athlete that everybody falls in love with. The big thing he needed to work on this season was his command, and his 4.23 SO/BB ratio proves that he has improved on that.

AAA-Memphis Redbirds
Record to date: 65-55, second place in the PCL American North, 3 games behind Iowa.
This past week: 3-3, highlighted by a fantastic rehab start by Kyle Lohse.
Transactions: Kyle Lohse was promoted to Memphis from Springfield (1-4, 5.89 ERA, 25 SO, 47 1/3 IP in MLB)

Coming up: The Redbirds will finish off their series against Colorado Springs on Monday before hosting Salt Lake Tuesday through Friday.

AA-Springfield Cardinals
Record to date: 25-22 in the second half (63-54 overall), third place in the TEX North, 5 games behind NW Arkansas.
This past week: 4-2, won the Tulsa series 3-1 and won the Corpus Christi series 2-1.
Transactions: Nick Derba was promoted to Springfield from Palm Beach (.202, 13 R, 11 RBI, 104 AB in A+), Steven Hill was promoted to St. Louis from Springfield (.280, 22 HR, 86 RBI, 361 AB in AA), Tony Cruz was placed on the 7-day DL (.295, 25 R, 20 RBI, 166 AB in AA), Charles Cutler was promoted to Springfield from Palm Beach (.292, .368 OBP, 23 R, 154 AB in A+)

Coming up: The Cardinals will host San Antonio for a three-game set before traveling to Corpus Christi for another three-game series that will run through Friday.

A-Palm Beach
Record to date: 27-19 in the second half (66-50 overall), first place in the FSL South.
This past week: 7-0, eight game win streak… ’nuff said.
Transactions: Tyler Greene assigned to Palm Beach for a rehab stint (.265, .360 OBP, 10 R, 68 AB in MLB), Nick Derba was promoted to Springfield from Palm Beach (.202, 13 R, 11 RBI, 104 AB in A+), Luis De La Cruz was promoted to Palm Beach from Batavia (.231, .464 SLG, 6 R, 26 AB in A-), Kevin Moscatel was promoted to Palm Beach from GCL (.277, .359 OBP, 18 RBI, 83 AB in RK), Charles Cutler was promoted to Springfield from Palm Beach (.292, .368 OBP, 23 R, 154 AB in A+)

Coming up: The Baby Birds will finish up a three-game series with St. Lucie before heading to Bradenton for four games for a fight for first place.

Matt Carpenter, 3B, Springfield
.412 AVG (7-for-17), .615 OBP, 5 runs, 1 home run, 4 RBI, 9 walks, 1 stolen base
Yes, you read that right. In six games, Carpenter was walked nine times. That may be why his on-base percentage is through the roof. On the season, Matt is hitting .324/.437/.494 with 82 runs, 27 doubles, three triples, 12 home runs, 60 RBI, and ten stolen bases in 407 at bats.
Kyle Lohse, SP, Memphis
W, 7 innings pitched, 3 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
This may be cheating. Is it? Either way, this was by far the most dominating pitching performance of the week. Well done, sir. In nine starts in the Majors this season, Lohse is 1-4 with a 5.89 ERA and 25 SO in 47 1/3 innings.

Justin Hulsey covers the Cardinals for and his blog, Cardinals Front Office, that is also dedicated to Cardinal baseball.You may follow him on Twitter @JayHulsey by clicking here.

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