Miller Has High Hopes

Righthander wants to reach Double-A in 2011





ST. LOUIS—The Cardinals will let righthander Shelby Miller's performance in spring training dictate his opening assignment, and the club's top prospect already has a destination in mind.

He'd like to throw his name in for the Double-A rotation.

"I know it s a huge leap for a 20-year-old," Miller said. "I know it's been done."

Miller came to St. Louis in January to receive the organization's pitcher of the year award at its annual baseball writers dinner. During the fan festival before that event, Miller spoke about how realistic his goal was, and he reiterated it during a visit to Springfield, Mo.

Miller went 7-5, 3.62 in 24 starts for low Class A Quad Cities last season and, in the words of team vice president Jeff Luhnow, "saved his best for last." During his first playoff start, Miller struck out nine batters in his first four innings and finished with 13 in seven shutout innings. He hit 95 mph in his final inning of work.
With that as his tailwind, Miller thinks he could sail past high Class A.

Miller will get a head start by coming to major league camp for the second consecutive season, though this time he got the invitation more than a month earlier. Miller was a late add as a non-roster invitee in 2010, but he's a featured invitee this time, and it's possible that pitching coach Dave Duncan will find him an exhibition-game start, something he couldn't do a year ago.

The Cardinals have Miller penciled in for high Class A Palm Beach to start the season. It's not unusual for a Cardinals pitching prospect to open the season there for the weather and confidence-building ballparks before jumping to the Texas League for the bulk of the season. Miller could rewrite the plan with a strong spring performance, especially if he gets a crack at competing with the Double-A squad during March minor league games.

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• Responding to requests from players, the Cardinals will relax their stirrups rule at the higher levels of the minor league system. The Cardinals have long insisted that the pant cuffs be worn high to reveal the ringtails on the socks.

• The Cardinals finalized their non-roster invites to spring training to include third baseman Matt Carpenter, catcher Audry Perez, outfielder Shane Robinson (back from shoulder injury) and pitcher Lance Lynn.