Blog Entry

Andrew Miller: Still a prospect at 25?

Posted on: March 20, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: March 20, 2011 2:45 pm
FORT MYERS, Fla. –- When he was 21, Andrew Miller was already in the big leagues.

Heck, at 21, Andrew Miller was nearly pitching in a World Series.

Four and a half years later, he still hasn’t made it through a full big-league season. As colleague Scott Miller wrote the other day about Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin, Miller is “trapped between Potential and Baseball Nomad.”

Maybin and Miller are forever linked, as the two key players the Tigers traded to Florida for Miguel Cabrera, and also as two big-time prospects who never made it big with the Marlins.

And just as Maybin may have found a welcoming team this spring with the Padres, Miller may have landed at the right place at the right time with the Red Sox.

Scouts following Boston have been impressed with Miller all spring, to the point where some of them believe that he would be the team’s best option as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. The Sox haven’t made that decision yet, but as of now, Miller remains in big-league camp competing for a job.

“He’s really exciting,” manager Terry Francona said Sunday. “We’re his third team, and sometimes guys just seem to get it. He certainly has a special arm.”

That arm has allowed Miller to throw in the mid-90s, and when you put it together with Miller’s size (he’s 6-7), it always excites scouts. But inconsistent mechanics and command have kept Miller from having big-time success.

Sure enough, when Francona brought Miller into Sunday's spring game against the Cardinals to face the left-handed hitting Colby Rasmus, Miller walked him on five pitches. Later in the inning, he issued a bases-loaded walk, and couldn't finish the inning.

In 79 big-league appearances (54 of them starts), he has a 5.84 ERA and more than five walks for every nine innings pitched.

Before Sunday, Miller had two walks in 7 2/3 innings this spring. The Red Sox are still trying to decide whether he can show enough command to be trusted in the bullpen, and Sunday's outing certainly won't help.

“I don’t think I’ve reached my potential in the big leagues,” Miller said. “If my path takes me to the bullpen, that’s fine. I’m not stupid. I can look at the roster.”

In other words, while Boston’s rotation is set, the bullpen isn’t.

While Miller and Maybin have had similar careers, there are differences. While Maybin expressed some disappointment in the Marlins’ lack of patience, Miller had no such complaints.

“They gave me a bunch of opportunities,” he said. “I was definitely in a different situation than Cameron. Cameron spent more time in Triple-A. They gave me plenty of opportunities.”

Miller believes he’ll fulfill the potential that so many have seen in him. He thinks Maybin will, too.

“I still stand by what I’ve said, that I think one day he’s going to be pretty special,” Miller said. “Maybe [moving on from the Marlins] was a good thing for both of us.”


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