Minor League Prospect Report: Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals will promote pitching prospect Shelby Miller in time for Tuesday's game. He's expected to provide bullpen reinforcement for the stretch run.
In 27 starts for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds, Miller went 11-10, 4.74 ERA with a 160/50 K/BB in 137 innings with 138 hits allowed. However, the raw numbers don't tell the whole story.
The 6-3, 195 pound Miller was the Cardinals best prospect pre-season and ranked number two on my Top 50 Pitching Prospects list for all of baseball. Despite this lofty status, he got off to a terrible start and looked totally lost by mid-June, with an ERA well over 5.00, sagging peripherals, and some negative scouting reports. Through 17 starts, he had a 6.17 ERA with 90 hits and 40 walks in 77 innings for Triple-A Memphis, although he also had a positive marker with 90 strikeouts.
However, the second half of the season has been outstanding: 2.88 ERA in his last 10 starts, with a spectacular 70/7 K/BB in 59 innings. His performance in August has been especially amazing, with a 53/4 K/BB ratio in 37 innings. The improvement is attributed to mechanical adjustments that improved his command, more willingness to use his curveball and changeup, and a better attitude overall.
With a mid-90s fastball, two impressive secondary pitches, and better control, Miller still profiles as a top-of-the-rotation starter. Although the Cardinals should be taken at their word that he'll pitch in relief for now, never say never: isn't impossible that he could make a start should circumstances warrant.