Can Shelby Miller Be St. Louis Cardinals' Staff Ace for Years to Come?

Jeff Sucher@jeffsucherContributor IIIDecember 26, 2012

Shelby Miller has been the Cardinals organization's top prospect for the last three years or so.  Finally, in September, Cardinal fans were graced with Miller's presence on the big stage.

Shelby pitched fairly well in his first stint with the big league club. 

He posted a a 1.32 ERA in his six appearances with one start sprinkled in.  In his one start against the Cincinnati Reds, he allowed only one hit and no runs.  Granted, the Reds already had their playoff spot secured and the regulars only took about two at-bats, but it was sparkling nonetheless.

Miller had his worst minor league season in 2012, posting a 11-10 record with a 4.74 ERA while surrendering 24 home runs in his 27 starts.  But when Miller got to the big show, his better-than-average fastball mixed in with decent off-speed stuff showed that he could pitch at the big league level.

So the question is, can Shelby Miller be an ace for the Cardinals in years to come?

My guess is that he can.  He reminds me a bit of what Adam Wainwright looked like when he came up for the Cardinals in 2006.  They have a similar frame with an above-average fastball.  As Wainwright developed, he proved he could be a workhorse, eating up innings along the way.  He also sharpened a wicked curveball that Miller will hopefully inquire about in spring training.

However, Miller averaged just over five-plus innings in his full seasons in the minors, so that will need to be improved as he develops at the major league level if he wants to be an ace.

All that said, if Miller can continue to develop and keep his strikeouts up as he historically did in the minors, he could be the foundational pitcher to lead the Cardinals into the future.

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