Came across a great scouting report on Shelby Miller:
Body Type – He’s got a tremendous pitcher’s frame. He’s filled out some since he was drafted in 2009, but looks like somebody who still has some room left to grow and get stronger.
Fastball – An outstanding offering that ranges anywhere from 94 – 98 mph with excellent life. The pitch doesn’t have any one type of movement. It’s a little straighter up in the zone, but the upper end of the strike zone is typically when Miller’s fastball has its best life and is most difficult to pick up.
Thrown around belt high, you start to see some running action to the pitch. Move a little lower, to around knee high, and the pitch combines that running action with a little more sink, as it starts to bore into right handed hitters.
And then there are instances where Miller ends up releasing the ball late, starting it off on a low trajectory. When he does that, the ball simply travels down hill and it’s likely to end up around shin high, where it’s almost impossible to lift.
Curveball – Clocked in the mid – upper 70′s, Miller’s curveball grades out as plus at its best. The pitch has a big, but sharp 12-to-6 break. It needs to become a little more consistent, however. He doesn’t always get on top of the pitch, so it doesn’t break in the way it’s supposed to.
The pitch comes out of his hand looking like a high fastball, and he sells it well. At release, it actually looks like he throws with more intent than he does with his fastball. Hitters see this and react as if something hard is thrown, which gets them off-balance and leaves them paralyzed with in-decision once they pick up the pitch thrown was not a fastball.
Other than the lack of consistency, my main problem with Miller’s curveball is that it sometimes comes from a slightly higher arm slot than the fastball,
Change-Up – This was an area of concern for Miller in high school, since he didn’t throw one thenl. Scouts who were projecting Miller’s future suggested his delivery and arm slot were well suited for a change-up. Those scouts were right, as Miller featured a change-up that would flash plus at times last year, featuring impressive sink and fading action. Miller also did well maintaining a fastball arm speed.
However, because the pitch was so new to him, consistency was an issue. He needs time to establish a better feel for the pitch as change-ups tend to get better the more you throw them. In addition, he’ll have to improve his command of the pitch.
Shelby Miller was one of the top prep pitchers in the 2009 draft class, but surprisingly dropped all the way to the Cardinals at pick No. 19. St. Louis is now reaping the rewards of a mistake made by others.
While Miller’s stock has always been high with me, it jumped another two levels last year. He’s moved ahead of Detroit’s Jacob Turner in who I expect to make the biggest impact at the Major League level. It’s not anything that Turner did wrong, and it’s not even something that Miller has done that I didn’t think he could do.
But the questions I had about his command and change-up were mostly answered. He’s not where he needs to be at this moment with either, but the progress he showed last year makes me believe he can make good on his upside.
I love what Miller does from a mechanical standpoint. They are a perfect combination of power, control, and repeatability.
I stated prior to the 2010 season that Miller has plenty of velocity left in the tank, and even though his velocity did tick up a bit last year from his high school years, I still feel there is more velocity waiting to be unleashed. Some of that will come with added strength. But some of that will also come with mechanical tweaks, some of which have already happened. Below you see the high school version of Miller on the left and Miller from last year on the right…
Two of the adjustments I particularly liked were also very simple to implement. To start, you can see Miller is last year was stepping into his leg kick, so he was able to build up momentum early. This enables him to get his hips moving a little earlier as well, which is the second adjustment. He does a better jof of drifting through his balance point, leading with his hips and letting gravity do its work.
The third change is something the Cardinals’ organization might as well patent. Miller added a ball-pound, where he briefly takes the ball out of his glove, pounds it, and then gets moving. It occurs at around the time where the front leg begins to move downward. I believe it’s used as a timing mechanism to begin aggressively and quickly moving the body forward.
The ball-pound is something many of the Cardinals’ power arms use. Jason Motte does it, Francisco Samuel does it, and Chris Perez, when he was a member of the Cardinals, used it too.
Other changes are more easily seen by looking at the behind the plate view of Miller. Here are some things to take note of. Again, his draft video is on the left and the 2010 version is on the right:
1. A shorter leg kick with the hands a little more out in front of the body, rather than up against it. It’s hard to the ball-pound when the hands are pressed up against the body.
2. The bigger change might actually be the bending over of the torso at the waist. This enables Miller to generate the necessary torque between his torso and hips, and perhaps give his arm more range-of-motion so he can achieve a deeper load. But if you compare the two versions, it’s more dramatic this year. And it’s combined with another adjustment…
3. A little more reverse shoulder rotation. This is something that can not only add more torque to his delivery, but also more deception. Notice how his back turns a little more toward the hitter. This makes it more difficult for hitters to pick up his release point.
This change also means he lands a little more closed than before. You can decide whether that is a good thing or bad thing. There are points to be made on both sides.
The one area I remain unimpressed with Miller mechanically is what he does with his glove-side. Yes, he gets the job done — he does firm the glove up, but rather than leave it out in front of the chest, he sorta curls it into his side, which isn’t ideal. I also notice he’s not consistent with his glove-side.
If you break down Miller on a pitch-by-pitch basis, you’ll notice his glove varies somewhat in the position it’s in at release. That could be a contributing factor to Miller’s inconsistent command.
By the Numbers
Miller overwhelmed hitters in the Midwest League last year. He struck out over 31% of all batters faced and he strung together some extremely impressive starts throughout. However, I was surprised by how well the league fared when actually able to make contact. Miller’s BABIP against was .357, far too high for a pitcher with his stuff. That tells you his command must improve…and that he needs a little more luck on his side.
Miller could start next year in A+ Palm Beach, but there has been talk of giving him an aggressive assignment to Double-A Springfield. My guess is probably something in-between. Start him in Palm Beach, and then move him to Springfield if he starts strong.
Best Case Outcome – No. 1 starter
More Likely Outcome – No. 2 starter