Prospect Smackdown: Battle of the A. Millers: Andrew Miller vs. Adam Miller
Background and Intangibles
Andrew Miller: A college star at the University of North Carolina, Andrew Miller was rated as the top college pitcher in the 2006 draft, and probably the best overall player in the draft, by many experts. He fell to sixth overall due to worries about his bonus demands. The Tigers signed him for $3.55 million, including a major league contact that puts his guaranteed money over $5.4 million in the long run. Miller made his major league debut late last summer. There are no serious complaints about his work ethic or intangibles, and despite some command issues he looked comfortable in a major league environment.
Adam Miller: Adam Miller was drafted by the Indians in the supplemental first round in 2003, out of high school in McKinney, Texas. After a mediocre rookie ball debut, he blossomed as one of the best pitching prospects in the game in 2004. Elbow problems slowed him down in '05, but he rebounded fully in '06. His work ethic and intangibles are rated as exceptional, although he can sometimes be a bit emotional.
Advantage: Well, this is a matter of taste, I guess. Andrew Miller had a higher amateur profile and was more highly-regarded on draft day than Adam Miller. But Adam has proven himself more fully in pro ball, and his rehab work to come back from the elbow injury has really impressed a lot of people in regards to his personality and drive to succeed. Call it a wash I guess, or maybe a slight edge to Adam.
Physicality, Health, and Tools
Andrew Miller: Andrew Miller is 6-6, 210 pounds, born May 21, 1985. He has been healthy and durable throughout his college career. Some scouts don't like his delivery and worry that he stresses his arm a bit much, but so far it hasn't been a real problem. His fastball is outstanding for a lefthander at 92-94 MPH, hitting 97 at times, with plus sinking action. His slider is outstanding. His changeup is mediocre and will need to be improved, but he's got the aptitude to pick it up with more experience. He has all the physical tools needed to be a dominant starter at the major league level, provided he refines his command a bit more.
Adam Miller: Adam Miller is 6-4, 195 pounds, born November 26, 1984. Health was a major problem in 2005: a sore elbow wiped out much of his season, and reduced the quality of his stuff when he did pitch. But he rebounded fully in '06, regaining his 92-95 MPH fastball (hitting 97-98 at times), as well as his nasty slider. His changeup is still a work in progress but is better than it used to be. His mechanics are clean, and don't obviously stress his shoulder or elbow, although even pitchers with perfect mechanics can still get hurt. He has all the physical tools needed to be a dominant starter at the major league level, provided his health holds up.
Advantage: Both pitchers throw with similar velocity; both have excellent sliders; both need to improve their changeups. Overall I think you have to give Andrew Miller a slight edge here, since finding a power lefty is harder than finding a power righthander.
Performance and Polish
Andrew Miller: Andrew Miller in his career at North Carolina went 27-9, 2.77, with a 325/140 K/BB ratio in 309 innings. He pitched ten innings for the Tigers last year, allowing nine runs with a 6/10 K/BB ratio, but the sample was small and no one expected him to dominate in the majors right off the bat. Andrew is an extreme ground ball pitcher, with a ratio in excess of 4:1 in college ball.
Adam Miller: Adam Miller has a career minor league record of 27-20, 3.41 with a 387/116 K/BB ratio in 396 innings. He went 15-6, 2.75 in Double-A last year, with a 157/43 K/BB in 154 innings, allowing just 129 hits. When healthy, his K/BB, K/IP, and H/IP ratios have all been excellent. He is a ground ball pitcher, although not to the same extreme extent as Andrew Miller.
Advantage: Comparisons here are quite difficult, as we don't have directly comparable stats to look at. In general, Adam has better control and polish than Andrew right now, but he also has been learning his craft in a pro environment rather than in college, and Andrew is hardly raw given his experience level. Perhaps a slight edge for Adam.
Andrew Miller: Assuming the expected command refinements, Andrew Miller projects as a number one starter at the major league level. At worst he would be a power closer from the left side if the changeup is a problem, but I don't expect it will be in the long run.
Adam Miller: Assuming continued good health, Adam Miller projects as a number one starter at the major league level. At worst he'd be a number three type if his stuff levels out or slips a bit.
Advantage: PECOTA mean 5-year VORP for Andrew Miller is 51.8. PECOTA mean 5-year VORP for Adam Miller is 59.1....very close! Note that I take PECOTA projections for pitchers especially with large grains of salt. PECOTA doesn't like either of these guys as much as traditional scouts or my own analysis does. But I find it interesting that PECOTA projects them so closely.
Maybe a SLIGHT edge on intangibles for Adam Miller, Andrew gets a slight edge on tools, Adam gets a slight edge on current polish and performance, they rate even on projection. I rated Adam at Number Six on my pitching prospect list, and Andrew at Number Seven. It's really, really close but overall I think Adam is just a HAIR better.