Tigers Prospect Profile: Andrew Miller

After lengthy contract battles in the past with first rounders Justin Verlander and Cameron Maybin, the Tigers were hoping to avoid that with '06 first rounder Andrew Miller. A promise of a 2006 big league debut for Miller later, and Miller was inked before summer was over, and debuting for the Tigers in Yankee Stadium. How long before he returns for good?

Andrew Miller
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-6
Weight: 210
Born: 5/21/1985
Bats: Right
Throws: Left

The Tigers lucked out in the 2006 draft, nabbing the consensus top player with the 6th overall pick. Miller comes with a long line of success, a line that started back in high school. As a senior, Miller was named the Florida Gatorade Player of the Year, and also earned High School All-American honors during his final campaign. After such a successful high school career, Miller was selected in the third round by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but opted to honor his commitment to UNC.

As a freshman, Andrew experienced continued success with a 2.93 ERA (team leading) and 6-3 record, while being named a Freshman All-American and 2nd Team All-ACC. In a rare move, he went to the Cape for the summer, where he was named a Cape Cod League All-Star and the League's top pro prospect. His 2-0 record in seven starts was impressive, but not nearly as impressive as his 2.03/1.13 line against competition that is typically a year or two older than him.

As a sophomore, Miller was even more impressive; this time being named again to the All-ACC 2nd Team, while also making the Brooks Wallace Award, Roger Clemens Award, and Golden Spikes Award watch lists. During his second season on the Cape, he was again honored as the League's top pro prospect. In addition, he was named the Baseball America Summer Player of the Year, Co-BFC Whitehouse Outstanding Pitcher, and a Cape Cod League All-Star. In winning these awards, Miller posted a 6-0 record backed by an incredible 1.65/.0.92 line for the Catham A's.

Miller's junior season for the Tarheels was quite possibly one of the most impressive in college history. In the always difficult ACC, Andrew posted a 2.67 ERA with a 12-2 record, and was named the ACC Pitcher of the Year. On top of that, Miller helped lead his team to the College World Series finale, where they lost to Oregon State. Andrew was a consensus 1st Team All-American, and a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award given to the nation's top player. Baseball American honored him as the Collegiate Player of the Year, while he earned the Roger Clemens Award as the top collegiate pitcher. Miller finished his UNC career as the school's single season and career strikeouts leader, and finished third in wins and fourth in innings pitched.

After a heavy amateur workload, Miller debuted with the Lakeland Tigers in August after signing a $3.55 million dollar contract. His stay in Lakeland was brief (3 outings), and it ended before he could allow a run. He was called up to Detroit at the end of August, and made his Major League debut on the biggest of stages; Yankee Stadium against he New York Yankees.

Scouting Report
Miller brings exceptional size, poise, and intelligence to the mound. His four-seam fastball sits consistently in the 93-95 range, and can touch 97 when he reaches back for more. His two-seamer has a little less velocity, but adds significant movement. Andrew gets plenty of natural sinking action on his secondary fastball, and can command it to both sides of the plate, low in the zone. His command deserted him during his brief stint with the Tigers, but he generally pounds the zone with quality strikes.

Miller's breaking ball is a late-breaking slider that he can place on both corners, or bury in the dirt as a swing-and-miss out pitch. His slider is absolutely a plus-pitch, and already rates as one of the top breaking pitches in the minor leagues. He has flashed a change-up at times, but the pitch is little more than a show-me pitch for now. He will need to advance the quality of his change to ensure his success at the big league level.

Athletics are in his blood, as his uncle played football for the University of Miami, and then later in the USFL and NFL. He is a very good athlete, but his size makes it difficult to repeat his mechanics routinely. He sometimes drops to far below three-quarters, and loses command of all his pitches. When he learns to keep his arm angle up, he'll immediately become a dominant pro pitcher. Miller projects as a future ace, and could reach that ceiling very quickly.



































Health Record
Miller has no injury concerns at this time. He experienced a very heavy workload in college, but his arm has been resilient, and the organization carries little concern about his health heading into the 2007 season.

The Future
Miller will likely head back to Lakeland until the northern spring weather becomes warmer. He second stop could be at either Erie or Toledo, depending both on his performance in Lakeland, and the available rotation slots at either minor league stop. Miller should see some time in Detroit again this season, particularly if the Tigers need another starter or reliever down the stretch. He can get outs at the Major League level right now, but he could use some additional innings to refine some parts of his game.

There is little question that Miller will be a Major League stud. He has everything teams want in a pitcher, and he is quite mature on the mound already. The best case scenario would involve Miller being ready to slide into the rotation slot vacated by Kenny Rogers after the 2007 season, but his performance in the minors may force the Tigers hand sooner than that. Miller should be dominant at Lakeland, and that will likely continue at either Erie or Toledo starting in May.

Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.

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