On Monday, the final day before this year’s signing deadline, St. Louis Cardinals announced they have come to terms with their first-round pick from this year’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, right-handed high school pitcher Shelby Miller. The 18-year-old Brownwood High School graduate from Brownwood, TX was selected 19th overall.
Miller's signing bonus is a reported $2.875 million, over double his slot amount and the largest signing bonus for a player from the June draft in club history. Dominican outfield prospect Wagner Mateo, 16, snagged a record $3.1 million from the club last month, making this a summer of big investments in teenage amateurs by the Cardinals organization.
“When we selected Shelby we felt he was the best player available to us and we were committed to do our best to sign him and get him in the Cardinals system,” said Cardinal Vice President, Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow. “This is a great testament to our organization that we were able to sign someone of Shelby’s talent.”
Miller is considered by many to have the best fastball in the draft. He had a commitment to attend Texas A&M as their top baseball recruit after a 10-2 season with a 1.90 ERA this past year for Brownwood. Miller struck out 153 batters in 77.0 innings pitched and allowed 36 walks and 38 hits.
“This year’s draft provided us with a unique opportunity to sign one of the highest ranked right-handed pitchers available,” stated Cardinals Vice President and General Manager John Mozeliak. “I’m pleased that Jeff and our staff worked hard to get Shelby under contract.”
Miller, 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, was the first high school pitcher selected in the first round by the Cardinals since they selected Brian Barber with the third of three first-round selections in 1991 (compensation from Mets for Type B free agent Vince Coleman). It also was the third time in the last six years that the Cardinals went with a high school prospect with their first pick. Their last top pick out of a high school program was shortstop Pete Kozma in 2007.
Though Miller was reportedly in St. Louis on Monday for a physical, the organization plans to unveil their new signee to the media next Tuesday, August 25, at Busch Stadium prior to the Cardinals game that night against Houston.
Unless recent plans have changed, due to there being just a few weeks remaining in the minor league season, Miller is not expected to suit up for any Cardinals affiliate this summer. Update: Luhnow stated on The Morning After radio show on Tuesday that the organization hopes Miller can make a few game appearances before the season is out.
Miller is the 43rd member of the 50-man Cardinals 2009 draft class to sign and the first to do so in over a month. Picks from the 16th, 22nd, 27th, 39th, 45th, 46th and 49th have not come to terms with the organization. The signing deadline is midnight Eastern time Monday night.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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