Miller keeps focus and priorities in spite of recent hype

By on March 16, 2016

Photo by Preston Whitcraft Ephrata grad Brandon Miller delivers for Millersville.

Brandon Miller gets it.

He gets what it is to be a Millersville University student and baseball player, what it is to build meaningful relationships, how to lead, how to follow, and how to grow in every aspect of life. Brandon Miller is uncommonly grounded for a college junior who Baseball America named as one of the top MLB Draft prospects in Division II. He’s uncommonly humble for a pitcher who has dozens of pro scouts following him from start to start, clocking each pitch and critiquing each delivery.

The 2013 Ephrata High School graduate has already won PSAC East Pitcher of the Week twice, hasn’t given up an earned run in 19.2 innings and is 3-0, but he shows no ego or lack of focus. After an all-star summer in the Cape Cod League—college baseball’s most prestigious summer league—Miller has become the darling of pro scouts. And who could blame them for their infatuation? He’s a 6-4, 230-pounder that throws four pitches for strikes, operates with flawless mechanics and effortlessly rests his fastball above 90 miles per hour.

The brighter spotlight has only caused Miller to focus his workouts and preparation all the more. Miller knows what is coming in June. It is likely that he will join Tim Mazya as Marauder baseball juniors selected early in the MLB Draft. He’s preparing accordingly.

Early in the fall semester, Brandon and his longtime girlfriend, Whitney, joined Coach Jon Shehan and his wife Lindsay for dinner. Brandon and Whitney aren’t engaged but he admits it is a foregone conclusion. After a whirlwind summer in the Cape and the talk of leaving Millersville for pro ball in less than a year, Miller had plenty on his mind.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions, and Whitney and I like to have a plan,” said Miller. “Going into this year with the scouts and the hype, I think she is excited and a little scared. Coach Shehan and his wife have gone through this. Coach played pro ball right after he was married. We wanted to talk to someone who has gone through it. There aren’t a lot of people who have experienced that so to have him here, to sit down and talk with him and Lindsay and get some insight into where we are heading really helped Whitney and me.”

The conversation ranged from completion of his degree to the draft process, life in the minors to building a healthy marriage through faith, even when living in different states.

“(Jon and Lindsey) went through that experience in a Godly way and a Christian manner. That’s why I went to him, because that’s what I believe and how I want to live my life,” said Miller. “Having a coach share that faith where we could talk about the journey ahead and doing it in a Christian way was great.”

“Brandon is one of the wisest college students I have ever had the opportunity to coach or be around” said Shehan. “His priorities are straight, which allows him extra time to invest in what is important to him: his faith, family, school work and baseball. It is rare to see someone actually live their life in the order that many intend to. That’s what makes him special on the field—his drive to be exceptional.”

Miller and Shehan have built a strong relationship over three seasons, and Miller has learned far more than mechanics and situational baseball from his coach.

“What I’ve learned Coach is how to be man. He’s training guys how to become men and live their lives,” said Miller. “Being a man of faith, sharing that with coach, I can see what he is relating to and how it benefits us.”

Miller’s love for baseball started in the front yard before and after school playing catch with his mother, Lisa. His father, Brian, was his Little League coach. In high school, Miller weighed 175 pounds as a junior at Ephrata and college baseball was a little more than a blip on his radar. But after a showcase at B2B in Manheim, Miller realized that playing college baseball was a real possibility, and it became his goal. He put on 25 pounds his senior season and built himself into a conference starter as a true freshman at Millersville. With the help of pitching coach Ryan Forrest, he has honed his craft, transitioning him from what he calls a “thrower to a pitcher.”

“His drive is exceptional,” said Shehan. “He wants to pitch in the Big Leagues, not just play professionally. There is a big difference. Many scouts see that as a distinct possibility in his future. Physically, he has the body and delivery of a guy that can withstand the grind of a professional season as a starter. His stuff fits the mold, too. It will be interesting to see where his future leads him.”

The future certainly looks bright, but make no mistake; Miller isn’t looking past the present. He’s only three starts into his season. The Marauders are 10-1, ranked No. 6 in Division II and have plenty of unfinished business after falling in the NCAA Atlantic Regional Championship in each of Miller’s two seasons with the program.

“Stay in the present moment,” Miller said of his advice to himself. “At UNC Pembroke I felt that my mind was going different places in between innings. I had to tell myself to stay in the moment over and over again. ‘Focus on what you are doing and worry about whatever you are thinking about after the game, because right now, (pitching and winning the game) is what matters.’”

The advice worked. Miller threw eight shutout innings, allowing only two hits while striking six. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth.

The scouts, the press releases and the subsequent hype is impossible to ignore. But Miller isn’t letting it change him.

“I can’t focus on it. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve tried to work on this season since there has been some hype,” said Miller. “It can get in your mind if you start thinking about it and in turn you start throwing poorly. That’s the biggest thing that’s changed from last year. It’s a mind game. You have to control what you are thinking about.”

By keeping his priorities—faith, family, school and baseball—at the forefront, focus won’t be a problem for Miller.



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