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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ranking the St. Louis Cardinals' top prospects in 2013: No. 2 Shelby Miller

The St. Louis Cardinals are receiving plenty of find contributions from many of the organization's top prospects so far this spring. Guys like Kolten Wong, Matt Adams and Michael Wacha have all been impressive. All have already showed up on our rankings of the organizations top prospects in 2013.

Now, we are nearing the very top of our list and there are two players left to be named. The No. 2 prospect in our rankings is a former first round draft pick who is doing his best to join the Cardinals' starting rotation on opening day.

Shelby Miller, P, 22
2012 Highest Level: MLB St. Louis
2012 AAA Stats: 11-10, 4.74 ERA, 160 K in 136 IP
2013 Predicted Highest Level: MLB St. Louis

Shelby Miller had a roller coaster 2012 season within the Cardinals' organization that ended with a very successful stint at the major league level. Miller has been ranked as a top prospect by Baseball America for the last four seasons. 2013 will be the last year he will appear on those rankings.

While Shelby Miller's 2012 numbers don't look great, you have to look deeper. In his last seven starts, Miller had a 6-1 record with a 2.84 ERA. The impressive part is that he struck out 61 batters in only 44 innings and only walked 4 batters. This is why he was promoted at the end the season.

Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has this scouting report on Shelby Miller
Miller can run his fastball up to 95 mph, and it's a heavy pitch that should induce ground balls in the future, running his two-seamer in on right-handed hitters. His secondary stuff is a little more inconsistent, but his curve and changeup both have the chance to be above-average offerings in the future.
Miller is competing with Joe Kelly for the fifth starter spot in spring training. We should know rather quickly who will be getting that spot. I believe that Kelly has an early advantage due to his successes at the MLB level in 2012. If I had to make the call, I would go with Miller and let Kelly pitch out of the bullpen.

Eventually Miller will make it into the rotation if not at the start of 2013. Cards' fans have a lot to look forward to in Shelby Miller.

John Nagel is the owner and editor of CardinalsFarm.com, a website dedicated solely to covering the St. Louis Cardinals farm system. We are privileged to have Nagel's insight and expertise occasionally here at StlSportsMinute.com. You can follow Nagel on Twitter (@CardinalsFarm) or "Like" his page on Facebook.