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Cardinals beat the clock with first-rounder

Cardinals beat the clock with first-rounder

LOS ANGELES -- By this year's standards, the Cardinals beat the clock with all kinds of time to spare.

In a year where many Draft signings came down to the final day, St. Louis agreed to terms with first-round pick Shelby Miller approximately seven hours before the deadline for 2009 picks to agree with clubs. Miller, the 19th overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, will receive a bonus of $2.875 million, according to multiple Major League sources. That is approximately twice Major League Baseball's recommendation for the slot.

"Everybody said it was going to come down to the wire," Miller said. "A lot of teams do that, especially when you sign over slot. It's a great team, so you can't really pass up that good of a deal. Especially with the Cardinals, it's such a special team. I'm just glad we got it all worked out."

Both Miller and the club characterized the negotiations as amicable throughout, despite the late date on the culmination.

"Nothing really out of the ordinary, just normal," Miller said. "It was a good ride. We really didn't have any trouble with each other. Just coming to an agreement and getting a deal worked out. It's pretty exciting. I'm ready to play."

He may get to play, and soon. Miller will come to St. Louis next week for a news conference and to throw for the Cardinals' staff. After that, it's possible that he will be sent out to pitch a few innings for one of the team's Minor League affiliates.

"We're talking about that now," said Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals' vice president for scouting and player development. "He'll be coming to St. Louis during the next homestand, and from that point [he could go] to one of our clubs.

"He's been throwing, and he's in pretty good shape. The plan is to try to get him some innings before the end of the season. ... The idea is even if he only gets three or four innings between now and the end of the season, at least he's out there with a club and getting a feel of what it's like to be in pro ball."

Miller was rated as one of the top high school pitchers in this year's Draft, and some analysts had him as the finest prep arm available. He had a commitment to attend Texas A&M but made no secret that he preferred to play professional baseball.

The hard-throwing Texan is listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. He has a fastball that has been clocked as high as 98 mph, and he also throws a curveball, with a relatively underdeveloped changeup. He was the first high school pitcher selected by the Cardinals in the first round since Brian Barber, whom they took with the 22nd overall pick in 1991.

Miller is the second high-bonus player to sign with the Cardinals this summer, joining Dominican outfielder Wagner Mateo, who received a reported $3.1 million. That's a major boost to a farm system that has been thinned out by trades in the past two months.

"Considering the loss of five or six very good Minor League prospects, replenishing with a couple of guys that we think have real impact potential is huge," Luhnow said. "These are guys we hope and expect someday will play in St. Louis."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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