The Mariners have been building up one of the best crops of starting pitching prospects in all of baseball. After taking Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, and then Emerson Hancock in the first round of the 2018, 19, and 20 drafts, you could see the plan to build up the system for years to come. Well, it looks like there may be another name to add to the list, although Bryce Miller wasn’t taken until the 4th round of the 2021 draft.
Bryce Miller put up some good numbers in college, but as with most players who tried playing in 2020 and even 2021, their seasons were shortened. He would post a 4.07 ERA in 110.2 innings while at A&M, with a WHIP of 1.355 and a K rate of 11.5. So, you would expect him to pitch fairly well while showing up to A ball as an experienced pitcher.
Bryce Miller did more than pitch “alright” so far in 2022. He’s been utterly dominant.
That first season in Modesto was a bit rough. He didn’t pitch a ton, heading there soon after being drafted. 9.1 IP, a 4.85 ERA, but 15 Ks. If you thought that would be a good indication of what he was going to do in 2022, you would’ve been correct. Well, the K rate would’ve been correct. For everything else, you would’ve been wildly incorrect.
Miller would start 2022 in High-A in Everett. He’s made 9 appearances and 8 starts, throwing 48 innings. For the minors, that’s quite impressive. Outside of his first start of the year (4 IP, 1 ER), he has gone 5+ IP in every single outing. The “relief” appearance looks like a game with an opener, as he would come in and start the 3rd inning, throwing 6 total innings, while striking out a career-high 11. Even more impressive, he did it on just 92 pitches.
I think that’s what intrigues me about Miller. His walk rate is just 2.9/9, his K rate is all the way at 11.8/9, and he is averaging just 15.84 pitches per inning, which is a great number. Everything is a touch better at Everett as well other than his ERA, which is 1.69 at Modesto and 1.88 at Everett. With a 0.917 WHIP in Modesto, he’s doing an incredible job at limiting runners, with just 5.4 H/9.
Mostly a fastball/slider guy, Miller can ramp up to 99 if need be, but usually sits in the 94-96 range. The fastball grades as nearly elite, and the slider is good enough for the majors as well, sitting in the mid-80s, offering enough velo change and deception to pump up those K numbers and induce weak contact. He does mix in a change and curve, but they are easily his 3rd/4th pitches.
With Miller stretching out in games, hitting 5 IP in nearly all of them, don’t be surprised to see a couple more 6/7 IP games from him if he can keep finishing innings around 15 pitches. A game where he is at 82 pitches through 6 innings seems quite feasible, and it would be a good test for Miller to prove he deserves a spot in the rotation come 2024.