Top Fantasy Prospects for 2012: St. Louis Cardinals

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 10: U.S. Futures All-Star Shelby Miller #19 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches in the third inning during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

This is the second in the series where I will pick one prospect from each of John's Top 20 Prospect lists that fantasy owners should consider on draft day in 2012. Today, I will address the top 2012 fantasy prospect for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Cardinals - Shelby Miller -Starting Pitcher

John ranked Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller as his #1 prospect in his Cardinals Top 20 Prospect List, giving him an A rating, and here is what he wrote about Miller:

1) Shelby Miller, RHP, Grade A: Has everything needed to be a number one, rotation-anchor starter. Just needs to stay healthy and sharpen up his command a bit more.

More on Miller after the jump:

Miller is rated by many as one of, if not the, best pitching prospect in the game. Jason Parks from Baseball Prospectus ranked him as his #1 pitching prospect in the game:

With his frame, his tenacity, his smooth delivery, his being a Texan, his power arsenal that could/should leave him with three plus pitches when he reaches maturity, and the overall command that seems to gain refinement by the outing, Miller is the present leader of the pack of right-handed pitchers, and one could make a very convincing case that he is the top prospect in the game itself. After all, legit aces are baseball’s most precious commodities, and Miller has all the characteristics necessary to fulfill this projection.

Miller had a very good 2011 season in AA, which saw him start just 16 games, going 9-3 with a 2.70 ERA and 2.73 FIP in 86.2 innings of work. He struck out 9.24 batters per nine but struggled with his command at times, as his 3.43 BB/9 would indicate. While not terrible, his walk rate did increase from 2.85 in 2010 to 3.43 in 2011, so it will be something to watch in 2012. Here are Miller's career minor league stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:

Year Age Lg Lev W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2009 18 MIDW A 0 0 6.00 2 2 3.0 5 3 2 0 2 2 2.333 15.0 0.0 6.0 6.0 1.00
2010 19 MIDW A 7 5 3.62 24 24 104.1 97 51 42 7 33 140 1.246 8.4 0.6 2.8 12.1 4.24
2011 20 2 Lgs AA-A+ 11 6 2.77 25 25 139.2 112 48 43 4 53 170 1.181 7.2 0.3 3.4 11.0 3.21
2011 20 FLOR A+ 2 3 2.89 9 9 53.0 40 20 17 2 20 81 1.132 6.8 0.3 3.4 13.8 4.05
2011 20 TL AA 9 3 2.70 16 16 86.2 72 28 26 2 33 89 1.212 7.5 0.2 3.4 9.2 2.70
3 Seasons 18 11 3.17 51 51 247.0 214 102 87 11 88 312 1.223 7.8 0.4 3.2 11.4 3.55
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/20/2011.

Miller will probably start the season in AA in 2012, and I can see him skipping AAA entirely. I can see him being added to the Cardinals rotation by mid-season, and providing fantasy owners with a decent ERA/FIP and plenty of strikeouts.

Miller should be a late round choice in mixed league drafts in 2012, and is a must own in dynasty and keeper leagues.

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