Prospect of the Day: Wade Miley, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
With Jason Marquis moving to the disabled list, Arizona has promoted southpaw pitching prospect Wade Miley to the major league roster. Let's take a look at this past, present, and possible future.
Miley was a starting pitcher for three years at Southeastern Louisiana State University. He struggled as a freshman (5.92 ERA, 97 hits in 76 innings), but improved as a sophomore (3.86 ERA, 77/40 K/BB in 96 innings, 106 hits) and was quite good as a junior (3.90 ERA, 119/41 K/BB in 102 innings, 101 hits), showing improved stuff before the draft. The Diamondbacks drafted him in the supplemental first round in 2008, 43rd overall. He pitched 11 innings for Yakima in the Northwest League for his pro debut, with an 11/5 K/BB and six runs allowed.
Miley split 2009 between Low-A South Bend (4.12 ERA, 91/29 K/BB in 114 innings, 127 hits) and High-A Visalia (4.80 ERA, 11/4 K/BB in 15 innings, 18 hits). His reputation among scouts suffered somewhat, as his velocity dropped into the 80s for much of the season. However, he turned things around in 2010, posting a 3.25 ERA with a 50/37 K/BB in 80 innings for Visalia, then a 1.98 ERA with a 63/28 K/BB in 73 innings after being promoted to Double- A Mobile, allowing 60 hits. He made progress with his secondary pitches and his fastball regained the velocity it had in college.
Returning to Mobile to begin 2011, he saw his ERA spike to 4.78 in 75 innings with a 46/28 K/BB and 74 hits allowed. He still showed enough for a promotion to Triple-A Reno, and he's been quite good at that level, going 4-1, 3.64 in eight starts with a 56/16 K/BB in 54 innings, and 53 hits allowed. All of his components improved after he moved up, despite the more difficult pitching environment.
Miley is a 6-1, 220-pound, 24-year-old southpaw. He has a wide range of pitches, including a 90-94 MPH fastball (which can hit 95-96 at times), a very good slider, a decent curve, a cutter, and a changeup. He keeps the ball down, avoids gopheritis, and is adept at coaxing ground balls, posting a 1.72 GO/AO this year, 2.64 last year, and 1.81 the year before that. He's tough on lefties, but his arsenal and command are usually good enough for him to survive against right-handers, meaning he won't be confined to a relief role. Although he doesn't walk a lot of people, his command within the strike zone can be inconsistent, and is the main reason his professional performance has been up-and-down.
In the majors, Miley projects as a number four starter, or perhaps a number three if everything develops perfectly. If his command wobbles too much for him to start, he could still be a useful bullpen asset.