As seen on The Outsiders Look at the Insides of Baseball.
Adam Miller of the Buffalo Bisons will take the bump for the first time in 2008 tonight as he tries to reclaim his status as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. While many still rank Miller as the #1 prospect in the Indians organization, people are beginning to worry what kind of career he is going to have with the persistent injury problems.
On WWKB 1520 Bisons manager Torey Lovullo said not to expect Miller to be working into triple digits any longer as he is now focusing on how to pitch rather then simply throwing. Furthermore, Lovullo asserted that Miller would not be on a strict pitch count, instead allowing him to go 85, 90 pitches into the game. Lovullo also suggested that he would let the radar gun tell him how Miller is holding up as the game wears on.
What are the prospect reports saying about Adam Miller entering the 2008 season?
- Baseball America ranks Miller as the 29th prospect, expecting him to get a call to the big club at some point this season.
- Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein has Miller ranked 52nd, and as the #1 prospect within the organization.
- Keith Law of ESPN ranks Miller at #29 stating, "Miller is a potential No. 1 starter if he can keep his arm attached at all its various joints."
- MiLB.com has Miller coming it at #10, apparently ignoring his long history of injuries.
In each case, Miller ranks as the #1 prospect within the Indians organization. The experts glow when they review him. Keith Law says, "when healthy, Miller has a four-seamer that sits in the mid-90s and a two-seamer in the low 90s, and he holds his velocity through 90-100 pitches. His slider already is a big league out pitch, up to 88 mph with a hard, late break, and his command has been good in the past."
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has the following to say,
The Good: When Miller is healthy and pitching, he remains awfully impressive. His low-to-mid 90s fastball can touch 98, and he backs it up with a low 90s sinker and plus slider. All three pitches can grade out above-average at times, and his changeup is solid.
The Bad: The biggest concern for Miller at this point is his health. He should be in the big leagues by now, but he can't stay healthy enough to put the polishing touches on his game to get there. Despite a big frame and smooth mechanics, some wonder if he wouldn't be better off in the bullpen in order to preserve his availability.
Although, the news it not all good, as Goldstein is beginning to worry about the injury issues. Consider that in 2007 Goldstein rated Miller as an Excellent Prospect in his 5 teir rating system. Entering the 2008 season Goldstein has Miller down to a 4 Star Prospect. While a 4 Star Prospect is nothing to scoff at, it is obvious Goldstein is not as high on Miller the 23 year old as he was with Miller the 22 year old.
What do I expect from Adam Miller this season? I have personally bumped him from my top 5 Indians prospects, worrying that he is going to work his way into the bullpen. While he would still presumably be an outstanding pitcher as a reliever, its tough to imagine any right handed reliever being rated as a top 5 prospect in anyones organization, unless one was certain the pitcher would be a closer, and a great one at that.
Update - 04/23/08 - 8:33 PM EST
The first inning is underway. Adam Miller struck out the first hitter he faced, with a swinging in the zone strike. The next hitter, Bernie Castro walked on seven pitches, then moved to second on a passed ball. Juan Miranda moved Castro from 2nd to 3rd as he grounds out in what would have been an inning ending double play (according to the Buffalo radio announcers). Shelly Duncan then managed to single in Castro looping an Adam Miller slider down the left field line. Miller was able to get out of the inning without allowing an earned run when Jason Lane grounded out to first; this, after he swung and missed on two fastballs.
Off to a nice start, Miller threw 14 of 22 pitches for strikes, including 4 of the swinging strike variety.