Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: March 19, 1982
Going into the 2004 season, Miller was one of the top pitching prospects in the Twins' organization. He had put up tremendous numbers during his first four years in the farm system, and was entering his first season of Double-A ball as a 21-year old. When the dust had settled on the 2004 season, Miller was apparently back to square one, and would have to reopen the eyes of the Twins' scouts.
Miller was selected by the Twins in the third round of the 2000 draft out of Weatherford High School in Oklahoma, where he had been named Oklahoma High School Player of the Year. During his senior season, Miller went 11-0, struck out 141 batters, and finished the year with an 0.82 earned run average. His team won the State Championship with a 41-0 record, and Miller was named the 46th best prospect in the nation by Baseball America.
He was originally assigned to the Gulf Coast League Twins, after signing with the organization on June 19, 2000. He would end up appearing in 14 games for the Twins, starting ten, and finished the year with a 3.09 ERA. He was then promoted to Beloit to finish off the year, making two starts, and finishing with six strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work.
During his second year of professional baseball, Miller spent the 2001 season as one of the best pitchers in the Appalachian League. He went 5-1 in 15 appearances, and had an ERA of 2.44. He also struck out 61 batters in 48 innings of work, while walking only 12. The following season he would get his first taste of full-season ball.
In 2002 he would go on to win a career-high ten games for the Quad Cities Swing of the Midwest League. For the first year, Miller would be a starter the entire season, making a career-high 27 starts. He threw 154.2 innings, struck out 139, and finished the year with a 3.78 earned run average. However, in 2003, Miller would establish himself as a top arm in the organization.
He made the jump to High-A Fort Myers in 2003, and again was one of the best pitchers in the league. Miller won nine games for the Miracle that season, started 26 games, and was all over the league's leader board. Now, as a legitimate Major League prospect, no-one could have expected what happened next.
In Spring Training, Miller felt a tweak in his elbow during his last start of the Spring season, and he knew something was wrong. After trying to rehab it too quickly, Miller was given an MRI, and fortunately the injury was a muscular one, and not ligament damage. He would end up using the 2004 season as a kind of extended Spring Training, but his arm started to show life towards the end of the season.
After writing off the 2004 season as a wash, Miller was back in New Britain to start the 2005 season. He started off the season in grand fashion, winning Twins' Minor League Player of the Week honors in April, but another injury cut his season short. Now, after two injury plagued seasons, many questions surround whether or not he will go back to his 2003 form.
Repertoire.Fastball, Curveball, Changeup
Fastball.Miller does not have an overpowering fastball, but is a good enough pitcher to know when to mix it in. He has the ability to hit the high-80's, but his fastball is probably his third best pitch. When he is spotting it, it is effective, but when he isn't, he can get lit up.
Other Pitches. It is Miller's off-speed stuff that has made him successful in the past, and it is what separates him from other pitchers in the organization. Anyone can rock back and throw gas, but it takes a real pitcher to use his other pitches. His curveball has sharp break to it, and he has the ability to spot his changeup wherever he wants it.
Pitching. Miller has battled injuries the past two seasons, and he should be able to bounce back in 2006 once again, mostly because he is a very good "pitcher". He is a player who knows his limitations, and knows that when he has good command, he is hard to hit. He also has a great mental make-up, giving him the ability to battle tough situations on the mound, as well as in his career.
Projection. After two years on the disabled list, Miller is probably going to have to switch to the bullpen in 2006. With his assortment of breaking pitches, Miller could become a nice commodity in the bullpen someday. He was once viewed at as a top-flight starting pitching prospect, but with the lack of good relief talent in baseball, a switch to the pen could be his best ticket to the show.
ETA. N/A. Injuries have clouded the expected time of arrival for Miller, but one good year could catapult him back into the team's picture. Had he not been injured the past two seasons, he could possibly be in Minnesota right now. However, he has tremendous mental make-up, and will battle through this rash of injuries. If he has an injury-free 2006 season, Miller could see Minnesota in 2007. However, if he gets hurt again, he may have to latch on with another team in 2007.