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Shelby Miller fans nine in six-inning home debut at Double-A

Jun 11, 2011, 10:38 AM EDT

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It’s time to start getting really excited about Cardinals pitching prospect Shelby Miller.

The 2009 first-round draft pick made his home debut for Double-A Springfield on Friday night, striking out nine batters in six strong innings of work.

Miller had eight punch-outs through his first three innings and looked to be cruising, but shoddy defense gave way to three opposing runs — two of which were earned — in his final three frames. He was pulled after throwing 97 pitches.

Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was in Springfield on Friday for the debut and had a series of observations in his Saturday report on the outing. Miller hit 97 MPH with his first fastball of the night and hung right around the low- to mid-90s the entire outing. He didn’t feature many breaking pitches, but the ones he did throw were effective. He’s expected to begin working on finding a more balanced arsenal in his time at Double-A.

Miller, 20, now has 14 strikeouts in 12 innings since earning his promotion to Springfield. He had 81 Ks in 53 innings this year at Single-A Palm Beach and fanned 140 batters across 104.1 innings in 2010.

If everything continues to go according to plan, Miller could be in the majors by mid-2012. ESPN’s Keith Law recently ranked him the fourth-best prospect in baseball and he stands a good chance of becoming an ace.

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