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Prospect Retro: Wade Miller

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Wade Miller (AP)

Prospect Retrospective: Wade Miller

Wade Miller was drafted by the Houston Astros in 1996, in the 20th round, out of Topton, Pennsylvania. Assigned to the Gulf Coast League, he went 3-4 with a 3.79 ERA in 10 starts, posting a 53/12 K/BB ratio in 57 innings. I would have given him a retrospective Grade C at the time. He had a live arm, but his rookie ball numbers weren't especially outstanding.

Moving up to the Midwest League in '97, Miller posted a 3.36 ERA in 8 starts for Quad City, with a 50/10 K/BB ratio in 59 innings. This earned him a promotion to the Florida State League, where he got hot, going 10-2, 1.89 in 14 starts, with a 76/14 K/BB ratio in 100 innings. His K/BB for Kissimmee was 161 percent better than league average, and scouts were impressed with the movement on his fastball. I gave him a Grade B- in the 1998 Minor League Scouting Notebook.

Miller made just 10 starts in 1998, going 5-0, 2.32 for Double-A Jackson. His mound time was limited due to finger tendonitis in his throwing hand, which prevented him from gripping the ball properly. The good news was that his velocity picked up into the 95 MPH range. I gave him a Grade B in the 1999 book.

For Triple-A New Orleans in '99, Miller went 11-9, 4.38 with a 135/64 K/BB in 162 innings. I gave him a Grade B- in the '00 book, dropping him a notch from his previous grade. I was concerned that his K/BB and K/IP ratios were only around league average for New Orleans. I wrote that "Miller is a good long-term property, but I don't think he's going to set the National League on fire his firs go-around. He'll need time to settle in."

That proved exactly right in '01. Miller posted a 3.67 ERA and 83/18 K/BB in 15 starts for New Orleans, but was less effective in the Majors, going 6-6 but with a 5.14 ERA. He improved greatly in '01, going 16-8, 3.40 for the Astros, solidifying his hold on a rotation spot.

Miller's minor league track record is marked by strong H/IP ratios. His K/BB and K/IP were somewhat erratic, good in A-ball but slipped a bit at the higher levels. This reflected his need for better command. He was a good-not-great pitching prospect, a classic Grade B guy.

Comparable Pitchers to Wade Miller through age 27 (based on Sim Score and PECOTA, no active pitchers included)

Joey Hamilton
Jim Bunning
Ben McDonald
Bobby Jones
Rick Sutcliffe
Ralph Branca
Tom Sturdivant
Willard Nixon