PHOENIX -- The Cardinals have waited a long time to have a pair of pitchers such as the one they currently have in their Minor League system. Then again, a lot of teams have to wait a long time to come across two pitching prospects such as Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez.
Miller and Martinez have fans dreaming of a day that may not be that far in the future, a day when the two hard-throwing right-handers pitch in the same rotation, wearing the "birds on the bat" together.
Miller, 20, has reached Double-A in his second full pro season, and he's steamrolling Texas League hitters just like he's done everywhere else. Martinez, 19, dominated hitters in low Class A but has found the going a bit tougher in the high Class A Florida State League. For a young man who threw his first pitch on U.S. soil just four months ago, though, that's plenty heady.
Martinez throws a little harder, whereas Miller is a little more polished. Miller's ETA in the Majors is earlier, but he knows that Martinez is on the way, too. Both were recently rated among the 20 best prospects in baseball in Baseball America's midseason rankings.
"[Martinez] is going to be there someday," Miller said. "He's got the ability. He's just got to do the right things. He's got to listen to what everybody has to tell him. He's young. He's going through the system real fast, and I'm wishing him just as much luck to get there as fast as anybody else. I think he has the ability to pitch in the big leagues."
That's true of both of them, of course. Each threw a shutout inning in Sunday's XM All-Star Futures Game. Miller retired his first two batters before allowing a single and a walk, then got Dayan Viciedo to ground into a force play. Martinez faced three batters, getting a strikeout and hitting a batter before inducing a double-play grounder.
Martinez hit 98 mph on the radar gun, mixing in three pitches. Miller pitched at 92-93 with a changeup and a curveball. They have differing attitudes about their offspeed offerings. Miller still loves to live and die with his fastball.
"I can't say that I throw more offspeed than I have before, because I don't feel like I have," Miller said. "I feel like I'm still going after guys with my fastball, throwing it 70, 80 percent of the time. But you do have to throw your offspeed. You have to mix it up for sure. That's definitely something you've got to do."
Martinez, however, said that refining his changeup is his top priority.
"Right now I've really been working on my changeup," he said through an MLB.com interpreter. "It's a pitch that's really helped me [at Class A Quad Cities]. It's helping me now. And it's something I'm really focusing on. I know it's going to help me in the future."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.