The Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Shelby Miller, the St. Louis Cardinals' top pick, threw in the Busch Stadium bullpen Tuesday while most of the front office watched.
The 18-year-old right-hander from Brownwood, Texas, with the high 90s fastball, also officially signed the $2.875 million contract he agreed to on the Aug. 17 deadline. He ships out to Class A Quad Cities on Wednesday to begin a professional career that was delayed by protracted negotiations.
"Today was just an exciting moment for him, to see this ballpark," general manager John Mozeliak said. "He's been working out and he looked good."
Miller, the 19th overall pick, figures to get a few relief outings before the Midwest League season ends early next month. The Cardinals plan to send Miller back to Quad Cities to start next season, and Miller is optimistic he can quickly progress through the system.
"I hope I'm here in two or three years, however long it takes," Miller said. "I just need to make it as quick as possible. It's kind of like a family thing: I've met everybody, I fit right in and it just feels awesome."
The Cardinals gave Miller a jersey with the number 09 for a light bullpen session. Besides team chairman Bill DeWitt, a handful of current pitchers were in the bullpen to get a close-up view.
"The nerves were definitely there," Miller said. "I knew they were watching, but I was told to just go out there and be myself.
"I wasn't trying to overpower or impress anybody."
Miller said newly acquired John Smoltz was the first player he met. That made a huge impression.
"It's real cool. I saw him on TV," Miller said.
Miller had a scholarship offer to Texas A&M if negotiations fell through. Despite waiting until the deadline, he said he never doubted he would sign with the Cardinals.
"It was just going to take the deadline to get it done, like a lot of first-rounders," Miller said. "However far I had to come off the bonus I was asking for, it was worth it. I can't pass up anything like this."
Miller said he's saving most of the bonus money, except for $59,000 for a truck.