08/27/09 10:27 PM ET
Miller mows down competition
First-rounder faces minimum over six no-hit frames
By John Torenli / Special to MLB.com
The 21-year-old left-hander struck out five while facing the minimum over six no-hit innings Thursday night as the Great Lakes Loons cruised to a 10-0 rout of the Fort Wayne TinCaps at the Dow Diamond.
"I'm ecstatic," Miller said after throwing 88 pitches in his longest outing of the season. "I'm just trying to attack the zone as much as I can with all three pitches -- fastball, slider and changeup. It's been a process with the off-speed pitches, but I'm throwing the changeup and slider for strikes when I need to."
Miller (3-1), taken as a first-round compensation pick (38th overall) by Los Angeles this past June, began his professional career with three appearances in the Arizona Fall League before joining Great Lakes on Aug. 2.
The Baylor University product hasn't taken long to establish himself as one of the top young hurlers in the Midwest League. Through six starts, Miller has yielded only five earned runs on 15 hits and eight walks with 34 strikeouts over 27 1/3 innings.
"It's a process," Miller said. "I understand that. I'm working my way up.l Hopefully my best games aren't while I'm here. I still have plenty of games in the future."
Miller fanned the final two batters in a perfect opening frame before getting a seven-run cushion to work with from his offense in the bottom of the inning. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound southpaw didn't take the big lead for granted.
Justin Baum and Allan Dykstra fanned to start the second, giving Miller four consecutive punchouts before Dan Robertson was retired on a fly ball to right field.
Miller set down the first 13 batters he faced before hitting Dykstra with one out in the fifth. Robertson grounded into an inning-ending double play before the Channelview, Texas native pitched a perfect sixth to cap his best outing as a pro, drawing a loud ovation from the crowd of 5,344.
"I understand being pulled after six," said Miller. "But anybody who is throwing that well wants to keep going as long as they can."
Geison Aguasviva wasn't able to pick up where Miller left off, yielding a leadoff single to Blake Tekotte in the seventh. Aguasviva and Cole St. Clair combined to yield three hits over the final three frames, preserving Miller's second straight win and third in four Class A decisions.
Making the performance even more impressive was the opponent. Fort Wayne boasts the best overall record (87-43) and has scored the most runs (694) in the league this season.
Including his start against South Bend five days ago, Miller has yielded only one hit and four walks with 10 strikeouts over 11 1/3 scoreless frames in his last two outings.
"I really don't know [why I've had so much success]," Miller admitted. "There's always going to be bumps in the road. I'm just trying to make sure I throw strikes. If they hit it, they hit it. If they don't, they don't."
After batting .310 with 12 homers and 47 RBIs in 56 games during his final season at Baylor, some wondered whether Miller would be drafted as a position player. But the Dodgers saw the power-hitting junior outfielder's potential as a hurler.
"You want to [hit] as long as you can, but there's always a point where you have to focus on what's going to get you to the next level," Miller said. "It was a blast in college to be able to do both, but at some point you have to focus on one."
Despite giving up his at-bats, Miller is feeling more and comfortable in his new full-time role.
"It's all about getting in a routine," he said. "That's one thing that I've been really happy about, getting in a routine day in and day out, not having to worry about anything but pitching. I've been able to make some big steps in a month-and-a-half."
John Torenli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.