Miller named an all-star once again

By on June 14, 2017
Brandon Miller, a 2013 graduate of Ephrata High School, delivers a pitch for the Clinton LumberKings minor league team. This past week, Miller was selected to pitch in the Midwest League All-Star Game. Photo courtesy of Clinton LumberKings

Brandon Miller, a 2013 graduate of Ephrata High School, delivers a pitch for the Clinton LumberKings minor league team. This past week, Miller was selected to pitch in the Midwest League All-Star Game. Photo courtesy of Clinton LumberKings

For the second-straight season, 2013 Ephrata High School graduate and Seattle Mariners’ farmhand Brandon Miller will be an all-star.

Last Wednesday, it was announced that Miller, along with two other teammates (left-handed pitcher Danny Garcia and outfielder Anthony Jimenez) will represent the Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings at the Class A Midwest League All-Star Game held Tuesday, June 20, hosted by the Great Lake Loons in Midland, Mich.

Miller, 21, is in his second professional season after being drafted by the Mariners last June in the sixth round out of Millersville University. In 2016, he was named to the Northwest League All-Star team as a member of the Everett Aquasox, and got the start in the mid-season classic. In 2017, Miller has been a main stay in the LumberKings starting rotation and was the home opening starter for Clinton this year.

“It’s a huge honor to be able to represent the two teams that I’ve played for in the all-star game,” Miller said by phone on Tuesday. “That’s really what it comes down to…it’s a team effort. Obviously baseball is a team sport and I couldn’t do it without our defense or offense or just the guys who are picking me up day to day.”

After helping lead his Everett (Washington) team to the Rookie Ball playoffs a year ago, Miller said a slow start by this year’s team has the LumberKings sitting in the middle of the pack (27-34) as they near the half-way point of the season.

“The team struggled a little bit early on but we are playing some of our best baseball right now, which is good,” he said. “I think we just had to come together as a team, and get the team chemistry going a little bit. It’s tough coming off spring training because you never know who you are going to play with, and then they just throw a team together for you and you are expected to kind of bond with them. I think we are really turning it on right now…it’s been going well.”

Things have also been going well for the 6-4 right-hander, who has set new professional career-highs this season for strikeouts in a game, eight, and innings pitched in a game, seven. He currently leads the team in wins and is 7-3 with a 3.80 ERA. In his 64 innings of work in 2017, Miller has struck out 63 while walking 18.

According to Baseball America, Miller is now the Mariner’s 17th rated prospect, up four slots from the beginning of the season. A four-pitch hurler (fastball, slider, curveball, changeup), Miller said the key to his success this season has been tighter mechanics and his ability to throw strikes.

“The batters are better obviously since I moved up a level, but it really comes down to just making better, quality pitches,” he said. “I learned that early on this year. I struggled a little bit early in the year just because I wasn’t making good quality pitches, so I had to get back to what I usually do which is throw all four of my pitches in the zone. That’s how I’ve been successful recently. Nothing has changed pitch-wise, it’s just throwing all of my pitches in better locations.”

“This year in Spring Training they tweaked my mechanics just a little bit, just to refine them and make my pitches that much sharper,” he continued. “I’m more fluid with my delivery, and that’s really helped just to be able to throw my pitches consistently with the same mechanics and with the same arm slot. Now, all my pitches look like they are coming in like a fastball so it’s harder for hitters to distinguish what it is.”

While he’s certainly enjoyed success on the field this season, it’s also been going pretty well off it. He said he’s enjoying his time in Iowa, especially being able to share the experience with his new bride Whitney, who has been by his side in Clinton for the majority of the season.

Looking to the future, Miller said he hopes to finish the season strong and earn a promotion, if not this year, for the start of next season.

“I want to consistently keep moving up through the teams and through the levels,” he said. “You really can’t say when you’ll move up because you just never know what’s going to happen. I’d like to keep moving up each year. We’ll see…we’ll just keep working

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