Periodically, MLB.com will reach out to scouts who are out and seeing the best prospects in baseball to get an informed opinion of how some are performing. For this first installment, we talked to a scout who saw Shelby Miller
(No. 5 overall; No. 1 on Cardinals' Top 20
) make his second Triple-A start, facing the Astros' Jordan Lyles
, on April 13.
Miller allowed four runs on six hits over five innings in that outing, after yielding four runs on seven hits in three innings during his 2012 debut. The scout said there's no reason for concern and he appears to be right: Miller's third start on Wednesday was a one-run, nine-strikeout affair over five innings (albeit with four walks).
"You have to think with him, 'If he was in the Draft this year, where would he go?'" the scout said, pointing out Miller would be a college junior if he hadn't signed with the Cardinals. "He's going through the growing pains of being in Triple-A at a young age. His stuff is still good, his breaking ball is as good as I've seen it. He's still a top- to mid-rotation-type arm."
The scout came away impressed with Lyles, who clearly used his time in the big leagues last year to help him understand himself as a pitcher.
"The first time, I saw him in the South Atlantic League [in 2009]," the scout said. "He's settled in now. He's more mature on the mound than I've ever seen him. He can sink, he can cut. His breaking ball was average to plus. His mound presence and confidence, his ability to use his stuff, was the best I've seen him. On Friday, he was a little bit ahead of Shelby Miller."
The scout felt Miller would benefit from a full year in Triple-A and that perhaps Lyles' rushed path to the big leagues should serve as a cautionary tale for Miller and other young arms trying to knock on the big league door.
"The expectation level is so high that we rush them, then when they're not what we want, we don't know what to do with them," the scout said. "Maybe we need to slow the process down and let them go through the natural maturation process. They'll let us know when they're ready."
A couple of hitters the scout saw recently also received favorable reports:
Caleb Gindl, No. 15 on the Brewers' Top 20: "This kid is going to hit. He's more athletic than people give him credit for. He's a good outfielder with a plus arm."
Matt Adams, No. 8 on the Cardinals' Top 20: "This guy is going to be outstanding. Sort of a John Kruk body, but this guy is going to rake. He's going to be a middle-of-the-order bat and he's not a bad defensive first baseman from what I saw."