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Diamonds in Single A: Ryan Miller

June 1, 2009
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It is once again time for another Diamonds in Single-A. Sorry about the no show last week, but the holiday weekend kept me very busy. This week’s article will focus on pitching with a look at Ryan Miller, starting pitcher for High-A Kinston.

Ryan Miller was the Indians 36th round selection out of Blinn Junior College in Texas in 2006. He was a draft and follow player who the Indians were able to sign away from a commitment to Arkansas. For those who aren’t familiar with a draft and follow, it means you can draft a player and still sign him up to a week before the following year’s draft as long as the player attends a junior college. One of the more infamous draft and follow players was Darryl Kyle. The 2006 Draft was the last year of draft and follow players—this rule was abolished much to the chagrin of many talent evaluators.

Now, to get back to Ryan Miller, he’s a left handed pitcher who has been a starter thus far in his career. There are some who think that, because he is a lefty, his role in the future might switch to that of specialization out of the bullpen.

Year Level WHIP SO/9 BB/9 ERA H/9 HR/9 SO/BB
2007 R/A_SS 1.12 8.6 3.6 3.83 6.4 .4 2.35
2008 Low A 1.57 8.1 5.3 3.72 8.8 .9 1.53
2009 A-/A+ 1.97 9.3 10.7 6.98 7 .5 .87

I want to first point out that Ryan Miller is currently on the disabled list and some of his numbers could be reflective of the injury to his oblique. When I looked at his stats, to me the biggest issue and scariest stats are the SO/BB and BB/9. It shows major command issues. His stuff appears to be good; this is shown by the consistent strike rate even with the command issues. As a pitcher with command trouble gets promoted, typically there is a drop in the strikeout rate as he faces more and more refined hitters; this has not occurred with Ryan. Another positive sign in the data this year is in the drop in his home run rate; this could show an improvement in command as not as many pitches might be left over the plate. Alternatively, it could be that his command has slipped so much it’s hard to hit the ball hard, which could in turn explain the drop in hit rate.

The bigger problem for Miller, though, is he is struggling as others are achieving, causing him to slip in the system. There is a very good chance he will be switched full time to the pen when he recovers in hopes that it will be a positive move for him, as at this point there might be concerns of mental strain. He still has the ability, but his numbers and time itself are against him. The longer he struggles, the sooner guys like Bryce Stowell might move up and replace him.

Miller needs to rebound and show the form that he had at the beginning of last year if he wants to make the majors. The talent is there, but like many young pitchers, his command is holding him back. In my opinion, however, there is still a good chance Miller will be in the Indians pen some day.

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