Oklahoma City's Miller mows 'em down
Bobby Miller makes a point of telling himself to "stay where his feet are" while not looking into the future. His feet on Thursday were firmly planted on the mound at Dell Diamond, where baseball's No. 27 overall prospect put together one of the best pitching performances of the season.
Bobby Miller makes a point of telling himself to "stay where his feet are" while not looking into the future.
His feet on Thursday were firmly planted on the mound at Dell Diamond, where baseball's No. 27 overall prospect put together one of the best pitching performances of the season.
Making just his third Triple-A start, Miller struck out a career-high 14 over six innings, including the final eight batters he faced, in Triple-A Oklahoma City's 2-0 rain-shortened loss to Round Rock. It was the most strikeouts by an Oklahoma City hurler since Wilmer Font established a club record with 15 in 2017.
The 23-year-old eclipsed his previous high of 11 strikeouts, done twice this season with Double-A Tulsa.
For Miller, the reemergence of a key pitch made all the difference between a good outing and a great one.
"It's been a goal of mine to get my changeup back in play," the No. 2 Dodgers prospect explained. "It hasn't been there as much over the last month, so it was very important to find it again, particularly against right-handers. My four-seam [fastball] was playing well low and away and up in the zone. All of my off-speed pitches were working so I was able to keep them guessing."
Most of the Round Rock guesses were incorrect. Miller generated 19 swings-and-misses during his 100-pitch outing. The Elk Grove Village, Ill., struck out multiple batters in each inning except the first, but the second frame proved to be a blemish his team could not overcome.
A leadoff walk and a two-run homer -- despite three punchouts -- in the second was the only mark against Miller, who was otherwise unhittable.
Dude is special.— Oklahoma City Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) September 2, 2022
6.0 IP | 2 H | 2 R | 2 ER | BB | 14 K pic.twitter.com/AUNdyFf3lK
"It was a two-seam [fastball], which I don't throw a whole lot of unless it's to righties," Miller said. "I use it to try and get a quick out or to get ahead, but every now and then you'll get a one of those at-bats where a guy ambushes you. That's what happened there. I put the pitch where I wanted to, but he was looking for it and put a good swing on it."
It would also be the last ball hit fair against Miller, who fanned 10 of the last 11 batters for his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the season. Asked what going through a stretch like that is akin to, Miller hesitated.
"I can't really put it into words," he said. "When something like that happens, you're so zoned in on your job that nothing else around you is even noticeable. Add in the fact it's a close game and it just ratchets things up. I give [catcher] Tony Wolters a lot of credit. It was my first time throwing to him and he was great. He knew exactly what to call and when to call it."
Miller was promoted to Triple-A on Aug. 16 after going 6-6 with a 4.45 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 91 innings in the Texas League. The Louisville product surrendered five runs (three earned) in his Oklahoma City debut but has yielded four runs in 13 innings in his last two.
Overall, Miller is 7-7 with a 4.27 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 141 strikeouts in 109 2/3 innings.
"There's definitely a difference between Double-A and Triple-A," the 2020 first-round Draft pick said. "You’ve got guys who have been in The Show. The experience factor really sticks out. Guys make adjustments in the middle of the game or at-bat to at-bat. You need to be completely locked in from the start."
With only a handful of starts remaining in his 2022 season, Miller is laser-focused on finishing things on a high note.
"I just want to keep doing what I've been doing," he said. "Attacking guys, not issuing walks and staying healthy. If I do those things, I'll continue on the right track towards where I eventually want to be."
Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB.