Long Time Coming

Seven years after he was drafted, Jai Miller finally broke through





KANSAS CITY—Jai Miller wondered about his baseball future.

He went to spring training with the Marlins, who had drafted him in the fourth round in 2003, but was put on waivers. The Athletics picked him up and assigned him to their Triple-A Sacramento roster, but after he hit .118 and struck out 19 times in 34 at-bats, they waived him too. The Royals claimed him April 26 and sent him to Triple-A Omaha, where he hit .267/.340/.531, including .365 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in his final 14 games. That earned him a callup to Kansas City.

"The first month was just a roller coaster mentally more than anything," Miller said. "Not knowing where I was going to go, if anybody was going to pick me up or whatever was going to happen, and here I am today.

"I went with a new approach at the plate and I think it really helped. I'll just try to be nice and easy with my swing. I didn't want to overswing. It really helped. I've stuck with it and I'll continue to do that. Hopefully, I'll have success here as well."

Miller, who had one major league at-bat with the Marlins in 2008, has traveled a long road to find baseball success. He seemed bound for Stanford out of high school in Alabama on a football and basketball scholarship before the Marlins drafted him. Miller, 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, was a quarterback, receiver and safety, and a point guard in basketball.

"I definitely put more time into the other two sports," he said. "It's a learning curve for me. I'm still catching up with a lot of guys as far as like playing baseball. Just coming up, I wasn't playing a whole lot. I'm still learning so much. I was telling Ned (Yost, Royals manager) when I got here I'm just a sponge. Whatever information you have I just want to suck it up. I'm just trying to learn as much as I can."

Miller said he never thought about playing baseball professionally until the Marlins drafted him. "I thought it would be basketball or football," he said. "It's just crazy how things work."

ROYALTIES

• Lefthander Chris Dwyer, who went a combined 8-4, 3.00 in 19 starts with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and high Class A Wilmington, was shut down the final five weeks of the season with a back injury.

• The Royals signed righthander Jason Adam for $800,000, about four times over slot for a fifth-round pick, just before the deadline. Adam, who had a scholarship to Missouri, went 4-3, 1.51 as a high school senior in suburban Kansas City.