Shelby Miller, the St. Louis Cardinals' top prospect—and one of the very best prospects in baseball—will make his first Grapefruit League start Wednesday, when they face the Washington Nationals in their third official contest of spring training. Miller's debut is one of two starts that Cardinals fans will be watching extra-closely; Adam Wainwright, who makes his return from elbow surgery on Friday, has the other. Both pitchers could be crucial to the Cardinals' postseason chances in 2012.
In 2011, after a professional debut in which the organization had him on a strict innings count, Miller was as dominant as pitching prospects get; in 25 starts between high-A Palm Beach and AA Springfield he struck out 170 batters and walked just 53 in 139.2 innings. The Cardinals will try their hardest to keep from bringing Miller up before they absolutely have to—for reasons both developmental and financial—but if he keeps striking out 11 batters per nine innings it's going to be difficult to avoid.
Meanwhile, on the Nationals, an even more dominant pitching prospect is working on his opposite-field stroke. Just in case you thought I was jinxing anybody.