- Full name Bradley Aaron Mills
- Born 03/05/1985 in Mesa, AZ
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: R / Throws: L
- School Arizona
- Debut 06/18/2009
Drafted in the 4th round (145th overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2007 (signed for $140,000).
View Draft ReportLast year, Mills got some scouts' hopes up by flashing plus fastball velocity to go with a plus changeup and potentially above-average breaking ball. Some thought he was a third- or fourth-round talent, but the former walk-on at Arizona was honest with clubs and said he didn't want to sign as a junior. Instead, the civil engineering major--who attends Arizona on an academic scholarship--returned for his senior season and has been the Wildcats' No. 2 starter. The Blue Jays drafted him in the 22nd round but he didn't seriously consider signing, and he was having another solid season. His repertoire is much as it was last year, though he has pitched more in the 87-90 mph range without touching 92 as he did last year. His breaking ball has improved, as he throws it with more power than he did before. Mills is still a semester short of graduation and likely will want to finish up, which could cost him instructional league and set his development back. He also needed a cortisone shot late in the spring to help a balky back that caused him to miss a pair of starts down the stretch, further clouding his draft status.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Blue Jays drafted Mills in the 22nd round in 2006, but he turned them down to return to Arizona to finish his civil-engineering degree. Toronto signed him as a fourth-rounder in 2007, and he made his big league debut just two years later. He's still trying to find establish himself against top-level hitters, as his ERA has risen from 1.96 through Double-A to 4.58 in Triple-A to 7.80 in the majors. Mills depends on his feel for pitching and deception rather than pure stuff. In his brief time in Toronto, he has fallen behind in the count too often and then gotten hammered when he has been forced to come over the plate. Mills' best pitch is his changeup, which throws hitters off because he maintains good arm speed and has a herky-jerky delivery. He sets it up with a high-80s fastball that can touch 91 and an average 12-to-6 curveball. Mills will be 26 this season, and his window to crack the back of the Jays' rotation may be drawing to a close. If it closes completely, then he could be useful as a long reliever.
A 22nd-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2006, Mills returned to Arizona to complete his civil-engineering degree. He went 18 rounds higher in 2007, made it to Double-A in his first full season and reached the majors in his second. He got hammered in two big league starts, went down to Triple-A and threw eight shutout innings before spending the rest of the season on the disabled list with bruised ribs. Though he's far from overpowering, Mills has averaged more than a strikeout per inning as a pro via deception. His herky-jerky delivery throws hitters off, and his ability to mix his pitches keeps them off balance. He disguises his well above-average changeup with quality arm speed. He also gets outs with his solid 12-to-6 curveball. When he commands his 87-90 mph fastball, it's effective as well. Mills' below-average velocity and his tendency to pitch up in the strike zone with his high-three-quarters delivery created problems when he faced big league hitters. He's going to have to spot his fastball more precisely in the bottom of the zone to succeed in a major league rotation. Unless he overwhelms the Jays in spring training, Mills likely will open the season back in Las Vegas. Toronto has a number of young lefthanded starter candidates, so his future with the club may lie in long relief.
The Blue Jays first drafted Mills in the 22nd round in 2006, but he turned them down so he could complete his civil-engineering degree. Toronto took him 18 rounds higher in 2007 and watched him advance to Double-A in his first full season while ranking fifth in the minors in ERA (1.95) and eighth in strikeouts (159). Despite his strikeout total, Mills doesn't overpower batters in the traditional sense. Instead he relies on a deceptive, herkyjerky delivery and offspeed stuff to put batters away. His well above-average changeup is a true swing-and-miss pitch because his arm speed fools hitters. They also struggle with his average 12-to-6 curveball. He gets high marks for his mound presence and ability to make adjustments. Mills tends to work up in the zone because of his high three-quarters arm slot, which could be a problem against better hitters at the upper levels. Aside from his fastball velocity--he sits at 88-89 mph and touches 91--that's the chief criticism of the lefthander. Success came easily to Mills in 2008, but pitchers who rely on deception usually find it more difficult to fool big league hitters. Evaluators who have seen him pitch believe his stuff will play in the middle or back of a big league rotation.
The Blue Jays made Mills a 22nd-round pick in 2006, but as expected, the civil-engineering major opted to return to Arizona for his senior year. A former walk-on, he improved his draft status by 18 rounds in 2007 and received $140,000 to sign. Mills excited scouts by touching 92 mph as a junior, but he reverted to his more customary 87-88 last season. It didn't help that he received a cortisone shot late in the spring to help a balky back, then missed time with a strained oblique after turning pro. Deception is Mills' biggest asset as a pitcher, as he leans back in the middle of a herky-jerky, over-the-top delivery, and he perfectly disguises his offspeed offerings. Even playing catch with Mills presents a challenge. He gets tight rotation on his four-seam fastball and his average 12-to-6 curveball, but it's his changeup that's his equalizer pitch. He shows quality arm speed on the changeup, his lone above-average offering. The Blue Jays would like Mills to concentrate on pounding the bottom of the strike zone, which should be easier once he's free of injury this year in Class A. He projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Control in the Pacific Coast League in 2011
- Rated Best Changeup in the Pacific Coast League in 2011
- Rated Best Changeup in the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009