Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fantasy Focus Prospect Edition: Shelby Miller

Shelby Miller was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals out of HS in 2009 with the 19'th pick of the first round.  That was the same year the Giants drafted Zack Wheeler at #6.  Their minor league careers have been an ongoing comparison by many prospect observers with many thinking that the Cardinals got a better pitcher 13 picks later in the draft.  I don't necessarily subscribe to that notion.  I think the jury is still out, but Miller is an elite pitching prospect who made is MLB debut ahead of Wheeler in 2012.  The Giants and their fans got a good look at him in the 2012 NLCS.

Miller has a classic pitcher's body at 6'3", 195 lbs.  He has a 3 pitch arsenal anchored by a mid-90's fastball.  His road to the majors has not been without it's speed bumps.  There was an alcohol related brush with the law, then he got off to a rough start to his AAA stint last year with a first half ERA of 6.17.  He got it turned around in the second half, though, with a line of 7-2, 2.88, 59.1 IP, 7 BB, 70 K's, in his last 10 AAA starts.  His MLB debut was successful in a limited sample size with a regular season line of 1-0, 1.32, 13.2 IP, 4 BB, 16 K's.  He made 2 postseason appearances, both against the Giants in the NLCS with a line of 0-0, 5.40, 3.1 IP, 1 BB, 4 K's.

Assuming Kyle Lohse signs elsewhere and assuming the remaining 4 established Cardinals' starters are healthy, Miller will be competing with Lance Lynn, Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly for the last rotation spot. If he does not win that job, he will likely go back to AAA as starter in waiting.  The Cardinals have a relative surplus of pitching, and a trade for a shortstop like Asdrubal Cabrera could be something they would consider.

Whenever Miller is given the starting role, I will strongly consider adding him to my fantasy roster as a 9'th or 10'th starter as he fits all my criteria:  Size, velocity, high K rate and low BB rate.  The rest will take care of itself.

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