The carousel continues for former first-round draft pick Shelby Miller as he heads to the Milwaukee Brewers on a minor league deal. The 28-year-old right-hander will officially be playing for his fifth organization in as many years as the Brewers inked the former first-round draft pick to a low-risk minor lead pact.
Shelby Miller, Milwaukee Brewers Agree to Minor League Deal
Miller started the season as a member of the Rangers organization on a one-year, $2 million deal. That signing didn’t work out, as Texas released Miller earlier this month after posting an 8.59 ERA through just 44 innings pitched. During his brief tenure with Texas, Miller allowed 58 hits and averaged just over two runs per appearance while suffering career-lows in strikeouts per nine innings (6.1) and strikeout-walk ratio (1.03). Miller also tied for a career-low mark in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) at -1.1 before he departed.
It’s been quite the roller coaster of a career for the 2009 19th overall pick. A plus fastball that was not matched by any high school pitcher at the time gave a lot of hype to Miller as the departed from Brownwood High School and graced the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He made a fairly quick ascension to the major league ranks after a five-year stint in the minors. Once Miller reached the big leagues in 2012 it appeared as though it would be a quick rise to greatness. Miller recorded the best two-plus season record of his career with St. Louis going 26-18 with a 3.33 ERA. He was also third in the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year voting behind only Yasiel Puig and eventual winner Jose Fernandez.
The rise continued as Miller entered All-Star status in 2015 in his lone season with the Atlanta Braves. Miller recorded career bests in WAR (3.9), strikeouts (171), WHIP (1.247) and more.
Miller’s Fall From Grace
Then came the big fall back down to earth for Miller in what started out as one of the more lopsided trade busts in recent MLB history. Miller departed for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a trade that sent Dansby Swanson along with Ender Inciarte and Aaron Blair to the Atlanta Braves. While Swanson captured a batting average of .243 and ranked 15th in the league in DEF (Defensive Runs Above Average), Miller posted his worst seasons as a major league pitcher posting a 3-12 record and a 6.15 ERA through 20 games with Arizona before suffering from Tommy John surgery that would force him to miss most of the next two seasons.
The saving grace, if you want to call it that, is the fact that his fastball and slider velocities still touch up mid to upper 90’s with a fairly high spin rate for both. It’s more of a location issue than an issue of mechanics and effectiveness of pitches thrown. We saw that shown highly in the fact that Miller’s swing and miss percentage on pitches outside the strike zone dropped nearly 10 percent from his All-Star season in 2015.
That may very well be what the Brewers are thinking as they picked up Miller just a few weeks after picking up another former Texas pitcher in Drew Smyly.
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