Finally, the California League Class A-Advanced manager delivered the news.
And it was all good.
Miller was being promoted to the Seattle Mariners Double-A affiliate, the Jackson Generals of the Southern League.
The 6-3, 190-pound Miller was relieved, but excited about his new venture, all at the same time.
“It’s pretty cool — a pretty cool feeling,” Miller said about the call up. “I didn’t expect it. It was out of the blue. Honestly, from what I experienced in the minor leagues, that’s usually how it is.”
That very next morning at 6 a.m., Miller boarded a plane headed for Tennessee.
The 22-year-old’s promotion comes after an improved performance to start the second half of the season with the Mavericks.
Since the California League All-Star Game June 18, Miller started four games, finishing with a 1-1 record and a 2.91 ERA in 21 2/3 innings pitched, with 22 strikeouts and only seven earned runs allowed.
In the first half of this season in the Cal League, Miller started 14 games and had a 3-6 record. He allowed 43 runs in 71 2/3 innings and finished with a 5.40 ERA. He struck out 56 batters.
“I started off pretty rocky,” Miller said. “I feel like I’m just getting into one of those grooves. Getting consistent. I feel like everything is going my way right now, and it feels good.”
In all, Miller led the Mavericks this year in games started (18), strikeouts (78) and was second on the team in innings pitched (93 1/3) before the Bret Harte High School graduate was called up.
Miller, in his third professional minor league season, was drafted out of San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton in the 40th round of 2011 Major League Baseball first-year player draft.
The right-hander was a standout with the San Joaquin Delta Mustangs posting a perfect 8-0 record during the regular season in 2011, while making nine starts out of 10 appearances. Miller pitched 67 innings, recorded 56 strikeouts with a 2.01 ERA to help guide the Mustangs to the California Community College Athletic Association State Championships.
That impressive sophomore season prompted his selection by the Seattle Mariners.
“It’s definitely a really cool feeling,” Miller said. “Being drafted is one thing, but being promoted within the season, that means you’re having a pretty good season and that the organization likes you.”
Miller worked up his way up the Mariners farm system soon after being drafted. He played for the AZL Mariners in the Arizona League and made a brief appearance with the Mavericks in 2011 as a rookie.
In 2012, he started 17 games with 22 appearances for the Clinton LumberKings, a Midwest League Class A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, in Iowa. As a LumberKing, he finished with 84 strikeouts before being reassigned to the Mavericks for a second time.
Miller opened 2013 with the Mavericks as part of their rotation.
Playing with the Generals will be a familiar situation for Miller.
“I actually know every single guy on this team because I played with a lot of those guys last season,” Miller said. “The camaraderie on our team is great. Great guys. Great players.”
Bret Harte athletic director and former baseball head coach Heath Lane always knew Miller had what it took to play professionally once his priorities were set in the right direction.
“He’s one of the most competitive players ever for me,” Lane said. “I’ve never seen him intimidated, and he always rose to the occasion. He always wanted to throw the big games. He wanted the ball. Always wanted the challenge. By far the most dominant pitcher I’ve ever had.
“And that organization is really excited about him,” Lane added. “They truly think he has a shot at the big leagues.”
Miller believes he’s matured drastically since suiting up for Lane.
“Maturity is a big thing in the minor leagues,” Miller said. “I think the organization looks at that kind of thing too. He’s ready. He can handle it.”
And Miller is ready, now, to accept his new challenge as a General.
“Getting better everyday is my main goal,” Miller said. “The only way to do that is giving 100 percent all the time whether that’s in the bullpen, practice or in the weight room. I want to just finish the season strong just like I did last season — throw strikes and hopefully get to throw here to start next season.”
But in a few years, Miller hopes he can reach the majors and lace up his cleats for the big club, the Mariners.
“It’s worth it if you can make it,” Miller said of his journey as a professional baseball player. “And that’s obviously the overall goal and that’s what I want.”