Fans who pay close attention to the Dodgers’ farm system know that the last two seasons where like no other in recent history. In 2020, there was no minor league season at all due to the coronavirus, with only a select few prospects eligible to establish a regular schedule at the team’s alternate training site. Last year, just about every possible player who was mature enough and eligible for promotion got a shot in the majors, showing us just how talented — or untalented — the farm system actually is.
Many of us walked away with the feeling that there’s still hope for the Dodgers’ farm, but most of the players budding with talent are still developing at the lower levels — see players like Andy Pages, Diego Cartaya, Miguel Vargas and Luis Rodriguez. In the meantime, the club needs to figure out a way to bridge the gap between the major league fringe and that next level of outstanding talent.
One player who might be able to contribute in the majors sooner than later is 22-year-old righty pitcher Bobby Miller.
In his first year in the Los Angeles system, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Illinois native threw to the tune of a 2.40 ERA with a 0.941 WHIP and an impressive 70 punchouts over 56-1/3 innings of work. He spent the bulk of the season at High-A Great Lakes, posting a 1.90 ERA over 11 starts, before being promoted to Double-A Tulsa to end the season.
Miller had the chance to extend his 2021 season with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League, where he made three starts and two appearances out of the bullpen.
For those who may have forgotten, the Dodgers chose Miller as the 29th overall pick with their first selection in the 2020 MLB draft out of Louisville. Miller began his collegiate career as a swingman, but by the time he had the chance to join the Cardinals’ starting rotation permanently in 2020, the pandemic-shortened season saw him make just four starts.
Over his two-plus years with Louisville in the ACC, he posted a 15-2 record over 41 appearances — 25 of which were starts — with a 3.28 ERA and 175 strikeouts over an even 170 innings.
As he settles in as a professional, Los Angeles scouts and coaches still view his ceiling as a starter, although he may have the tools to blossom as a reliver at some point down the road.
For a younger player, Miller’s repertoire is quite extensive. He features a four-seam, a two-seam, a slider/cutter combo, a changeup, and a spike curveball that he added not long after the draft.
MLB Pipeline grades his heater as a plus pitch at 65 and his slider a little above average at 60. His change is still developing, but some scouts feel it will become a plus-pitch very quickly. Last season, his fastball was clocked as high as 99 MPH on multiple occasions.
MLB Pipeline currently has Miller ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the entire system.
Having performed so well in the hitter friendly confines of the Cal League last year might be a good sign for Miller. Obviously, he’s not yet on the organizational 40-man roster, but with all the uncertainty between the club’s starting rotation and bullpen next season, there’s a good chance a door could open for him in some capacity.