Originally posted on The Cardinal Nation blog  |  Last updated 7/18/12

One of our regular posters commented that he had read that the two quickest journeys ever from low-A Quad Cities to the show are Joe Kelly, at just under two years, and Trevor Rosenthal, at 10 months.

I noted that felt a bit artificial to me since the St. Louis Cardinals kept Rosenthal with the River Bandits all of last year. During the same period, they promoted a number of other top pitching prospects in-season, including Rosenthal’s rotation mates, some more than once.

I am not being critical of Rosenthal or how he was handled in any way. During the prior two years in short-season ball, he had pitched just 24 and 32 innings, respectively. Spending that full year at one level in 2011 seemed to work for him.

Despite all that, it isn’t the primary purpose of this post. Rather than time spent in the minors, I decided to analyze what I believe to be a more interesting comparison – number of innings thrown in the minor leagues.

All things equal, one would think that college-trained pitchers require less seasoning than junior college ones with high schoolers needing the most development work. In our very small sample, it didn’t turn out that way, however.

To test the idea, I selected notable Cardinals starting pitchers who came up through the system in recent years (at least partially, in the case of Adam Wainwright).

I included Shelby Miller in the table, though he has not yet reached St. Louis. Comparing his career innings pitched in the minors to the others indicates why one should remain patient with his development.

Note that Miller, a high school draftee, and Kelly, with three more years of college experience after having been taken after his junior year – currently have the exact same number of minor league innings. Neither of them has as many minor league innings as any of the four established major leaguers in the table.

As a side point, when the Braves traded Adam Wainwright to the Cardinals prior to the 2004 season, he had already thrown almost 600 innings since having been signed out of high school. Miller has barely half that.

In Rosenthal’s case, had he been moved up to A-Advanced Palm Beach last summer, his Class A innings total would have remained very comparable in this example.

Finally, to the bottom line.

Despite not having pitched at a four-year college and regardless of the levels at which he has pitched, Rosenthal has the fewest minor league innings of them all. Now, that’s an impressive ascent!

Innings by minors level Pitcher Drafted Rookie Class-A Double-A Triple-A Total Adam Wainwright HS 113 328 150 246 837 Danny Haren College Jr 0 246 55 174 475 Lance Lynn College Jr 0 42 126 246 414 Jaime Garcia HS 0 155 138 71 364 Joe Kelly College Jr 0 205 59 72 336 Shelby Miller* HS 0 167 87 82 336 Trevor Rosenthal Juco 56 120 94 0 270 *not reached MLB

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