November 16, 2012
Bush League: Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal
The St. Louis Cardinals have enjoyed a sustained run of success, making the playoffs for the third time in four years in 2012 despite a clubhouse that was missing a couple of Busch Stadium staples. The most glaring omission from the roster was the greatest Cardinal legend since Stan Musial, as Albert Pujols chose to pursue the bigger payday offered by the Angels, leaving the team whose offense he had carried on his shoulders for a decade. Manager Tony La Russa opted to end his career on a high note, retiring from the game following the Cardinals' World Series victory in 2011, and TLR took wingman Dave Duncan along with him to further deplete the coaching staff.
Replacing La Russa was former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny, who shepherded the team past plenty of obstacles throughout the season. Chris Carpenter missed nearly the entire season due to injury, fellow ace Adam Wainwright was inconsistent in his first year pitching after his Tommy John surgery, and southpaw Jaime Garcia dealt with shoulder woes that earned him a summer vacation on the disabled list. Lance Lynn emerged from relative obscurity to spearhead the staff in the first half, but when the dust settled, the best pitcher on the club was Kyle Lohse, the 12-year veteran who entered the season with 4.64 career ERA and is now a free agent.
Fortunately for them, the Cardinals are well-prepared for the possibility that the high-risk pitching staff will need help in 2013, as they have a pair of high-end pitching prospects who appear ready to make their mark in Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal.
However, the 6'3” right-hander's career path hit a speed bump in the first half of 2012 as his pitch command went out of whack, resulting in a bevy of walks and hard-hit baseballs over the first three months of the season. He made some adjustments after working with the coaching staff in mid-July, and the results were stunning, with a total 61 strikeouts against just four walks over his final seven starts of the minor-league season, covering 44 1/3 innings pitched. The Cardinals were impressed by his adjustments and gave the 21-year-old Miller a call to the show when rosters expanded in September.