Sunday, December 20, 2020

PhoulBallz Interview: LHP Erik Miller talks missed season, Instructs, repertoire, O'Hoppe

Erik Miller, image- MiLB.com
Lefty hurler Erik Miller is widely regarded as one of the Phillies most promising prospects.  Selected in the 4th round in last year's draft out of Stanford, he quickly made an impact as a professional and was promoted twice in his brief stint in the minors.

At three levels as a 21-year-old, Miller notched a 1-0 record with a 1.50 ERA, a .188 batting average against, a 1.11WHIP along with a 13.0 K/9 mark in 11 appearances in the minors.  

Listed at six-feet-five, 240-pounds, Miller was outstanding in college as well.  In his junior season (2019), Miller was named as a Baseball America second team Preseason All-American. In 16 starts that season, he posted an 8-3 record with a 3.48 ERA, a .224 batting average against and an 11.1 K/9 mark.  

Miller likely could have made it to the Double-A level this year, if the pandemic had not preempted the minor league season.

Recently, I spoke with the 22-year-old Missouri native about his time at the fall Instructional League this year, his missed season and more.  Read ahead for that interview.

-What can you share about the missed 2020 campaign? How did you stay game ready in case the minor league season re-started?

2020 was obviously a very tough year to be a minor leaguer. Everyone had to deal with it in different ways based on what was available to them. I was fortunate enough to have a place to throw and lift the entire time. I stayed on top of throwing during the pandemic and tried to treat it as if I was throwing during a normal season. For example getting off a mound 2 times a week, one being a bullpen and one being a live session against hitters. 

-How did you try to make sure it wasn't time wasted once it was clear there'd be no minor league season?

Once it was clear the minor season was not happening I tried to maintain the same throwing schedule to simulate a season as much as possible. I needed to make sure I treated my arm as similar as possible to a normal season to ensure I’d be healthy in 2021. From there it was just a constant process of trying to refine and build upon things from my 2019 season. 

-What's your pitch repertoire these days and does that differ from what it was before you were drafted?

My pitch repertoire is different now from when I was drafted because I split my breaking ball into two distinct pitches. I used to throw what I called a slurve, and I now throw a slider and curve ball. When I started throwing early in 2020 my slurve had changed into a cutter-type pitch. With the movement profile of my fastball I need a pitch with vertical break, thus I started to throw a curve ball. I think with more work my curve ball and slider will become true weapons for me. In total I throw a four-seam, change, curve and slider. 

To read the complete version of this interview, in which Miller shares his thoughts on participating in Instructs, teammate Logan O'Hoppe, and plenty more, check out my Patreon page located at Patreon.com/PhoulBallz and support my work.  Membership there will get you access to loads of exclusive material and you'll get other material early.

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