Name: Jason Miller
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: July 20, 1982
When he was in high school, Jason Miller was one of the best left-handed pitching prospects around. Coming from a pitching prospect powerhouse like Sarasota High School, Miller pitched well enough to make him a top draft pick in the 2000 June Draft. The Twins came calling in the fourth round of the draft that season, and Miller quickly signed with one of the best organizations for developing pitchers in all of baseball.
It did not take long for Miller to make a name for himself in the organization, as the hard-throwing lefty spent only two games with the Gulf Coast League Twins. After posting a 0.00 ERA in four innings of work, Miller was assigned to Elizabethton of the Appalachian League in July 15, and worked as both a starter, and a reliever.
For Elizabethton, Miller appeared in nine games, starting five, and posted a 4.50 earned run average. He struck out 22 batters in 25 innings of work, and showed tremendous control, walking only five batters along the way. He would be back in E-Town for the 2001 season, but this time he put up some nice numbers.
That season, Miller struck out 66 batters in only 53.1 innings of work, as he again worked from both the rotation and the bullpen. He dropped his ERA to 4.05, and he was primed for his first taste of full-season baseball.
After starting the year in extended Spring Training, Miller made his full-season debut with Quad City of the Midwest League. He was outstanding, posting a 2.34 ERA in 23 games, while making eight starts. He struck out a then career-best 71 batters in 65.1 innings of work, showing Twins' scouts the arsenal that made him such a sought after amatuer.
In 2003, Miller would again be with Quad City, but would receive a promotion to High-A Fort Myers before the season was out. He posted a 2.36 ERA for Quad City prior to his call-up on June 23, although he struggled a bit in his first taste of High-A ball. In 13 games with the Miracle, Miller had his highest ERA since his first season, and it was clear that he would start the 2004 season back in Fort Myers.
While he started the year in the Florida State League, Miller would be in a brand new role for the first time in his career. For the Miracle, Miller worked exclusively out of the bullpen, appearing in 19 contests. It appeared to be a perfect fit, as he did not allow a run during his last nine appearances for the Miracle. He was then promoted to Double-A New Britain, and would finish the year third on the team with 33 games played.
Last season, Miller was an Eastern League All-Star for the Rock Cats, as he established himself as one of the premier relief pitchers in the Eastern League. He appeared in 26 games for the Cats, and posted a nice ERA of 2.72. He was a perfect set-up man for Rock Cats' closer Patrick Neshek, as he held opponents to a .188 batting average, while striking out over one batter per innings. He was then promoted to Rochester, where he did not miss a beat.
He had a perfect 2-0 record to go along with his 3.81 ERA for the Wings, as again struck out better than one batter per inning. He was one of the more reliable relievers for the Wings down the stretch, and showed no signs of being overmatched in the International League.
Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup
Fastball. Miller has a very good fastball that sits in the 90-91 miles per hour range. He can get it up to around 93 when he is on, and he has pinpoint control with it. When he comes out of the bullpen, he is a force because his fastball seems to get hitters off balance. In high school, he was projected to pitch around 92 miles per hour in the pros, and that was a pretty good assessment. He does rely on his fastball a lot, and sometimes batters are sitting dead red on it.
Other Pitches. Miller has a pretty dominant curveball, and it is one that ranks high in the organization. He uses his unbelievable control to be able to set up hitters, making them look foolish when he throws his big bender. He also can put his changeup anywhere he wants it, and when it is coupled with his fastball, he can give opposing hitters fits.
Pitching. Miller is a bulldog out of the bullpen, and is one of the better set-up guys in Minor League baseball. He has also been a starter, so he still possesses a starters mentality from time to time. Still, he uses all of his pitchers well, and has the ability to use them in any situation. This makes Miller just a great overall pitcher, who does not seem to ever beat himself up mentally.
Projection. Jason Miller is going to be a lefty specialist when he gets to the Major Leagues, and could also see sometime as a lefty set-up man. He throws three good pitches for strikes, and would give a left-handed hitter fits if he was the only batter that Miller had to face. He has the ability to work more than an inning, but he would be most valuable as a left-handed specialist.
ETA. 2006. Miller should get a look at the Major League level during the upcoming season, as the Twins currently have a weakness in the left-handed reliever category. He will start the season with Rochester, again setting up Patrick Neshek, but should make his Major League debut towards the end of the season. If he puts up staggering numbers, which most scouts predict he will, the Twins are going to have to make a move to get him into their bullpen. Some pieces have to fall a certain way, but he should be able to contribute to the Twins in 2006.