Bobby Miller showed promise on the mound as a high schooler at McHenry High School in Illinois. He drew interest from professional scouts and was a prospect for the 2017 MLB draft.
But a torn meniscus in his right knee caused his stock to take a hit in the 2017 draft. Miller, a right-handed pitcher, also had a strong commitment to the University of Louisville. Those two factors caused him to fall in the 2017 draft, as he wasn’t selected until the 38th round by the Baltimore Orioles.
“There was a lot of talk my senior year, but I got knee surgery about a week before the draft,” Miller said. “It was a done deal at that point. I wanted to go to school anyways out of high school. Louisville was always the program I wanted to play for growing up. It was impossible to pass up.”
Over the last three years, Miller has enhanced his status as a draft prospect at Louisville. After splitting time between the starting rotation and bullpen in his first two years, Miller excelled in an abbreviated season as a starter this spring.
His results this spring have vaulted him into first-round consideration for June’s draft, as he’s one of the top college pitching prospects in this year’s draft class.
“It’s different this time around compared to high school,” Miller said. “I don’t know exactly what is going to happen with the draft. I’m not trying to worry about it. I’m just focused on trying to get better right now. That’s my goal.”
As a freshman in 2018, Miller made 17 appearances, including nine starts, and posted a 2.97 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 21 walks allowed in 66 2/3 innings. He continued to bounce between the bullpen and starting rotation as a sophomore and experienced similar results. In 80 innings, Miller recorded a 3.83 ERA with 86 strikeouts and 38 walks allowed in 20 games (12 starts).
Miller showed progress on the mound this spring until the NCAA canceled the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. In four starts, Miller had a 2.70 ERA with 34 strikeouts and nine walks allowed in 23 1/3 innings.
Miller served as Louisville’s No. 2 starter this spring behind left-hander Reid Detmers. Detmers is one of the top prospects in this year’s draft and likely will be a top-10 pick. Miller and Detmers were weight lifting partners and roommates on the road. That relationship and ability to watch Detmers has helped Miller develop his skills on the mound, Miller said.
“There are not too many guys you see like him,” Miller said. “You see the way he looks on the mound, he’s completely fearless. That’s what I learned from him. If he’s having a good game or a bad game, you can never tell when he walks off the mound.”
Miller is a 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander who throws a two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, changeup, slider and curveball.
His fastballs are his best pitches. He relies on his two-seamer more than his four-seam fastball, throwing it about 70 percent of the time compared to his four-seamer. His fastballs are above-average offerings and sit in the mid-90s and have peaked in the high-90s. He also typically maintains that velocity late into starts.
“That was big for me in the offseason and leading up to this season, I was working on the two-seamer with getting it away from righties and inside to lefties,” Miller said. “Just really working on the two-seam to get it glove side helped my confidence this year.”
His slider is his best secondary pitch. It features a hard break and sits in the high-80s. His changeup also is a solid offering and shows promise, while his curveball is a developing pitch.
Miller’s top priority moving forward is his mechanics. He has worked on refining them over the last year to help him improve the control of his pitches, he said.
“For me, the goals are to stay taller and use more of my height,” Miller said. “I want to use as much height as I can so I don’t follow off glove side. That’s what kind of messed up my control a bit and is something I worked on a lot this offseason.”
Miller is appreciative of his time at Louisville. He credits Louisville pitching coach Roger Williams for his development. He also believes he’s a lot more ready for pro ball after working with Williams than he was three years ago out of high school.
“I’ve developed so much, especially because of Coach Williams,” Miller said. “I’ve never seen someone get anyone ready for the next level more than him. Once I reached my junior year, I realized that he’s the best at getting guys ready for the next level.”
Read more stories on top 2020 MLB draft prospects here.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.