Cardinals demote top prospects Shelby Miller, Zack Cox

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Any speculation that Shelby Miller might be the choice to replace Chris Carpenter in early April ended Wednesday with the Cardinals’ decision to reassign him to minor league camp.

Among the others also demoted today were fellow starter Brandon Dickson and third baseman Zack Cox.

Miller, one of baseball’s top prospects, went 11-6 with a 2.77 ERA between high-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield last season. He disappointed a bit with his velocity while allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings this spring, but given that he’s just getting warmed up, it probably isn’t something to worry about.

Dickson, 27, made his major league debut with the Cardinals last summer, allowing three runs over 8 2/3 innings in one start and three relief appearances. He’s another one of the team’s fallback rotation options this season, though a far less exciting one than Miller.

Cox, a 2010 first-round pick, was 2-for-9 with five strikeouts this spring. He and Miller were teammates for most of last season, with both moving up from the FSL to the Texas League partway through. They’ll likely both return to Springfield to start this season.

Report: Angels to sign Cody Allen

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels and reliever Cody Allen are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical. The value of the contract is not yet known.

Allen, 30, was looking for an opportunity to close and the Angels can certainly provide that. He will likely be the favorite to break camp as the closer. 2018 was the roughest year of his career, however, as he finished with a 4.70 ERA, 27 saves, and a 80/33 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Among Allen’s six full seasons, his 27.7 strikeout rate and 11.4 percent walk rate represented career-worsts. FanGraphs also shows him losing nearly a full MPH on his average fastball velocity.

The Angels lost closer Keynan Middleton to Tommy John surgery early last season and he likely won’t return until the second half of the 2019 season. Blake Parker, who handled save situations in Middleton’s place, was non-tendered by the Angels in November and ended up signing with the Twins. The closer’s role is Allen’s to lose, it seems.