Miller suffers loss in first start with AquaSox

By on June 22, 2016

 

Brandon Miller made his first professional start in the Seattle Mariners system last Sunday, taking the loss for the Everett AquaSox in a 7-3 defeat to the Tri-City Dust Devils. (Photo courtesy of the Everett AquaSox)

Brandon Miller made his first professional start in the Seattle Mariners system last Sunday, taking the loss for the Everett AquaSox in a 7-3 defeat to the Tri-City Dust Devils. (Photo courtesy of the Everett AquaSox)

In many ways, Brandon Miller’s first professional start last Sunday night was like just any other.

Making his pitching debut for the Everett AquaSox, the Class A Short Season affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, the Ephrata native admittedly had some early nerves.

“I had a few butterflies, but that’s typical for me,” said Miller, a sixth-round pick of Seattle in the Major League Baseball draft. “I keep an even keel and throughout my start, they slowly fade away.”

Everything was under control through two innings against the Tri-City Dust Devils, as he yielded just one run and trailed only 1-0 going to the third.

There, however, the first four batters Miller faced all reached base, and that was the end of his night. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound right-hander took the loss in the AquaSox’s 7-3 defeat in Northwest League action. He yielded five earned runs on six hits in two-plus innings of work, issuing one walk and striking out none.

“The first two innings went well, but in the third, I failed to get ahead in the count and they started waiting for a fastball,” Miller said. “I wanted to pitch to contact, (but) it was one of those days where the ball was being hit where our fielders weren’t.”

Although his first outing for the AquaSox was a fairly short one, he quickly learned that the caliber of batters was different compared to what he faced while earning consensus First-Team All-American honors as a Millersville University junior this spring.

“There was quite a difference between college and pro ball hitters,” said Miller, who used all four of his pitches, but relied mainly on his fastball, curve and slider. “The hitters here are more patient and they all have a plan for each at-bat.”

After yielding a leadoff triple to Nate Easley in the bottom of the first and an RBI double to Aldemar Burgos, Miller avoided further trouble with a line out to left and then back-to-back ground outs.

“If I had to assess my outing, I know I have things to work on, but I threw strikes,” Miller said. “Tri-City was just having a good day at the plate.”

Tri-City’s Luis Asuncion led off the second with a single, but then Miller retired the Dust Devils’ next three batters &tstr; all on fly outs &tstr; to keep it 1-0.

Meanwhile, Everett’s offense managed just one hit through two innings off of Tri-City’s Will Headean, who pitched five shutout frames with eight K’s to earn the victory.

In the bottom of the third inning, Easley tripled to left field, Burgos walked, Chris Baker delivered an RBI single and Alan Garcia stroked a two-run double to left to chase Miller.

AquaSox manager Rob Mummau, a Manheim Central High School graduate, handed the ball to Lane Ratliff, the first of four Everett relievers used in the game. Mummau’s pitching coach is Moises Hernandez, the older brother of current Mariners’ ace Felix Hernandez.

“The biggest thing the coach said was to get ahead,” Miller said. “Since I fell behind in the count, I needed to throw fastballs to get strikes and the hitters knew I was throwing fastballs, so that’s what they wait on.”

The AquaSox wrap up a three-game series against Vancouver tonight (Wednesday) before heading back to Everett to host the Boise Hawks in their home opener on Thursday.

Miller is no doubt looking forward to getting back on the hill for his next start.

“This week (between starts), I will be throwing a bullpen and long toss,” he said. “I’ll be working on being able to throw change-ups for strikes and also throwing all of my pitches early in counts.”

Just call it part of the learning process that comes with playing pro ball. And now, with his first outing under his belt, Miller has a starting point.

“For me, it was no different from any other game I’ve pitched in before,” Miller said. “Everything was the same, just a higher level of play. It was exciting, though.”

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