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Top prospect Miller wins Cardinals' fifth-starter job

Matheny names 22-year-old to rotation after spring-long battle with Kelly

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Top prospect Miller wins Cardinals' fifth-starter job play video for Top prospect Miller wins Cardinals' fifth-starter job

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Cardinals named Shelby Miller their fifth starter Monday after the right-hander turned in a solid outing in a 4-3 win against the Twins.

Miller, who gave up one run on six hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings, beat out right-hander Joe Kelly for the final spot in the rotation. Kelly also pitched Monday and surrendered two runs on two hits and a walk over two innings of relief. Kelly will start the season in the bullpen.

"We let Shelby know he's going to get that start," manager Mike Matheny said. "Now what that start date looks like, we still have flexibility because of that off-day [April 4]. But when we get to the fifth starter spot, whether it's the second day in San Francisco or when we get back home, Shelby is going to be the guy to do that."

The 22-year-old Miller had an impressive spring, as he posted a 3.94 ERA in 16 innings, walking five and striking out 13. He got his first taste of the big leagues last season, when he posted a 1.32 ERA in 13 2/3 innings as a September callup before seeing action against the Giants in the National League Championship Series.

"I'm really excited," said Miller, the Cardinals' second-best prospect. "I'm still kind of taking it all in. To be the fifth starter for any team is amazing. To be playing for the St. Louis Cardinals is different. It's one of the best respected organizations in baseball. I'm looking forward to the opportunity I have. I'm playing behind some of the best players in the league."

Matheny also made sure to compliment Kelly, who will be used in a variety of roles out of the Cardinals' bullpen, where he made eight appearances last year in addition to his 16 big league starts. The 24-year-old posted a 3.53 ERA in 107 innings as a rookie, but his ERA was 5.54 this spring.

"We talked to Joe," Matheny said. "We told him he should be very proud of himself with the way he competed and went about his work. It wasn't about anything about what he did or did not do, but about what makes our team better."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ,"spring_training" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ,"spring_training" ] }
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