Strong Return Puts Athletics' Mason Miller Back On The Map
The rapid rise of Mason Miller has set the stage for a mighty debate when the Athletics report to spring training.
The 24-year-old righthander dazzled in the Arizona Fall League, showing a triple-digit fastball, a nasty slider and a rapidly improving changeup. Plus, he showed better control. In six starts, Miller struck out 20 and walked four in 16.2 innings.
Now, Oakland must determine whether he stays in the rotation or moves to the bullpen.
“I hope we keep him as a starter,” A’s pitching coordinator Gil Patterson said. “This guy’s a beast. With his work ethic, he’s a special guy.
"Maybe they’ll put him in the bullpen for a year, then they’ll start him. That has worked for a number of pitchers.”
A shoulder strain suffered in the final week of spring training in 2022 kept Miller's name off the radar most of the year. He was out until August, when he returned for six short starts, the final two of which came for Triple-A Las Vegas.
In the regular season and AFL, Miller's fastball sat in the upper 90s and regularly hit 100-102 mph.
Patterson wanted him to develop his slider and changeup, so he told him not to throw his mid-90s cutter this year.
“He told me, ‘I’m going without my best pitch,’ ” Patterson said with a laugh. “If everything goes right, we may allow him to bring it back this year.”
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Miller pitched five years of college, the first four at Division III Waynesburg in Pennsylvania, which ended in the pandemic season. He decided to pursue his MBA at Division I Gardner-Webb, where he went 8-1, 3.30 and racked up 121 strikeouts in 91.2 innings.
Miller was diagnosed as a Type I diabetic after his sophomore season at Waynesburg, and he worked hard to rebuild his body. The added strength led to big velocity on his fastball, and the A’s called his name in the third round of the 2021 draft.
They're glad they did.
— The A’s added lefthander Hogan Harris and outfielder/first baseman Lawrence Butler to the 40-man roster at the No. 15 reserve roster deadline. Butler hit .270 with 11 home runs in 81 games for High-A Lansing, while spending part of the year on the injured list with dislocated left elbow.
— Farm director Ed Sprague agreed to a two-year contract extension. Sprague joined the A’s after serving as head coach at the University of the Pacific, which followed his major league career.