HT: 6-1 WT: 200 POS: RP
Bowie Baysox/Norfolk Tides - (52 G, 0 GS, 66.1 ip, 3.39 ERA, 79 K, 41 BB, 3 HR, 0.70 GO/AO)
Often the loudest guy in the locker room, Jim Miller was drafted in the 8th round of the 2004 draft by the Colorado Rockies. Miller was a successful reliever at Louisiana-Monroe, but his pro debut (0.97 ERA, 17 saves, 65 K's in 37 ip) put him on the fast track. After the 2006 season, he was part of the package for starter Rodrigo Lopez. His development has slowed down a bit at the upper levels of the minors, but the strikeouts keep coming.
Earlier this season, Miller told ITW "I throw three different pitches- a fastball, splitter, and curveball. The fastball is usually 89-92 MPH, maybe touch 93 or 94 MPH every now and then. The split is low to mid-70's, which is the same as the curveball."
While Miller certainly has a power arsenal, he lacks a typical hard-throwing right-hander's build. A relatively short and squat build causes his fastball to come in on a flat plane up in the zone. While he got away with blowing the ball by hitters in the lower minors, his flyball tendencies could catch up to him at the highest level.
Miller's command also needs work, though he makes mistakes within the strike zone much less frequently than he misses the strike zone altogether. The Orioles think that he tended to overcompensate for pitching in front of a new set of evaluators and will settle down in his second year in the organization.
"The way we set it up in spring training and the way it's been here is they want to give me a chance to be a 7th or 8th-inning guy." Miller explained to ITW. "They want me to be a one or two inning guy and get a chance to throw my off-speed stuff more often and get more comfortable with it. If I am going to be successful for a long time, I am going to need those pitches on a consistent basis."
This approach is very similar to the methods the Orioles employed with Jim Hoey this season and shows the high regard the Orioles hold him in. While Miller will likely see significant innings in Baltimore's wide open bullpen in 2008, he could stand to spend a month or two toiling back in Norfolk. He has the ceiling of a quality set-up man, but will likely break in as a low-leverage option.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com