Since Dodgers lefthander Greg Miller went threw various shoulder problems over the last few seasons, he’s fallen off the prospect map somewhat. Once regarded as one of the top lefthanders in the game when he, Scott Kazmir and Cole Hamels were all in the Florida State League together in 2003, Miller spent much of the next two seasons rehabbing injuries.
But he was reborn last year as a reliever, jumping to Double-A to help Jacksonville win the Southern League crown. And he’s back again this season after faltering in big league camp during spring training. In 22 innings, Miller is 1-0, 0.82 with 24 strikeouts. We caught up with Miller to talk about his health, how it’s going with a completely different Suns team than last year, and the sinking feeling of being passed by.
Baseball America: We’ve heard mixed reports on both your health and your stuff this season, so let’s start with your shoulder. How does it feel and how does it bounce back between outings?
Greg Miller: I feel great, honestly. I’m getting anxious to see what happens down the road a little bit because I want to be in the big leagues and feel like I can contribute there, but I know they’re being cautious with me. Still, as long as I can stay on the field, that’s obviously the key. My arm bounces back very well on this current program and I’m probably always going to be a pen guy from now on. I’m fine with that. Hey, I’m just happy to be talking about what’s happening on the field and not answering questions about how my rehab is going.
BA: So what about the stuff? We heard it through the grapevine you hit 97 mph the other night . . .
GM: That’s true. And it’s very, very encouraging. I didn’t know it until afterwards, but my fastball’s had good life to it. My breaking ball has also been pretty good. I haven’t really been using my changeup much, but I couldn’t ask for anything more in terms of the quality of my pitches.
BA: Totally different team than last year, and you’re one of the few holdovers from 2005. Matt Kemp is a guy who was also a step behind the bigger prospects in the organization. What’s it been like watching him this season?
GM: Man, he is unbelievable. He carries himself like a big leaguer. It seems like anytime he goes 0-for-4–which isn’t often–he comes back and goes 4-for-5 with a couple doubles or a couple home runs. And he can play center field. The guy is a big leaguer and I don’t think anyone’s swinging a hotter bat in the minors right now, that’s for sure.
BA: So three years ago it was you, Hamels and Kazmir making all the headlines as the next big thing in terms of lefthanders when you were all in the Florida State League. Fast forward three years . . . do you ever feel like you’ve been passed by? Is that anything you ever even think about?
GM: I’ve thought about it, sure. But all I can do is control what I’m doing. Yeah, Kazmir is one of the top lefthanders in the big leagues and now Hamels goes up and is impressive this season after putting some injuries behind him. I got hurt. And it’s been a long road back. But i couldn’t control the injuries and that was something I really had to step back and look at myself and kind of get everything into perspective. Hopefully I can be up there with those guys soon. But I can’t compare my career path to anybody. It just hasn’t been the same.
BA: Anything you’re working on right now?
GM: I’m trying to stay more upright in my delivery to get a little more control of my stuff over the plate. I walked a lot of guys early, but it seems like it’s coming around. I feel like I’m making strides. And I have to keep growing, keep learning. I have to just stay dialed in and be ready to go.