Phillies fool WSU outfielder Jay Miller

RECORD-SETTING WASHINGTON STATE outfielder Jay Miller, a young man rarely fooled when it comes to incoming pitches, got an unexpected curve ball Tuesday. He was one of three Cougars taken on the first day of the Major League Baseball draft, but he didn't figure he'd be going to Philadelphia.

The Phillies weren't one of the teams that seemed overly interested in him in the days and weeks leading up the draft, he said.

But that's okay with Miller, who looks to get his pro career started quickly.

Jay Miller put up a long list of accomplishments at Washington State. He ended his college career ranked as the school's all-time hits leader (308) and No. 2 all-time in doubles (74).

Last week, following his .361 senior season at the plate, he was named first-team All-Pac-10 and third-team All-American.

What he's most proud of though doesn't show specifically in those numbers. "I guess the proudest part of my career is my strikeout ratio (22 BB:15 KO in 2006). I'm all about getting on base and moving guys over," explained Miller. That quality will fit nicely in the Phillies minor league system that has its share of high strikeout guys.

Miller is set to meet with a scout from the Phillies today and wants to get a deal done so he can get assigned to a short-season team quickly.

"My classes end on the 16th and I want to be playing as soon as I can. I'm looking forward to getting started," said the 22-year-old from Bellevue.

Coming into the draft, Miller didn't really know what to expect, but he didn't figure on being drafted by the Phillies. "There were a lot of other teams that had scouted me a lot -- Boston, Seattle, Cleveland, Baltimore, but Philadelphia is great. I was just excited to be drafted, but the Phillies did sort of surprise me," admitted Miller, who lasted until the 17th round.

At WSU, Miller played right field early on, but later moved to left field and became somewhat of an anchor there. His time in Pullman was a great experience and he's glad that he chose to attend Washington State. "This is a great school. It's a college town and it's been a lot of fun. It was definitely the right decision for me."

While the Phillies need power-hitting position players, don't look to Miller to help fill that void. "I'm never going to hit many home runs," admitted Miller. "But I'll do everything else that I can do to help my team win."

His keen batting eye and ability to get on base were just too much for the Phillies to pass up. Those numbers also make Miller a nice addition to the Phillies' minor league system.

Two other Cougars were drafted Tuesday: Junior pitchers Travis Webb (Cincinnati, 8th round) and Mike Wagner (Texas, 18th). In addition, two prep players who have committed to WSU were drafted: Bellevue High's Stephen Englund (2nd round, Washington) and Kennewick Southridge High's Shawn O'Malley (5th round, Tampa Bay).

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