Arizona Diamondbacks – could Jared Miller improve the bullpen?


Jared Miller, a left-handed prospect for the Arizona Diamondbacks, could be ready to help the bullpen

With the bullpen in shambles, help may be on the way for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In what was a revolving door with several relievers making multiple-visits to Chase Field this past season, one of the priorities of Mike Hazen, the new general manager and his yet-to-be-named field manager, is to solidify the pitching staff. This includes having five reliable starters and a bullpen which tends not to implode nearly every night.

With Hazen looking for production out of the pen, he could search no further than the Diamondbacks’ Salt River training facility. Here in the Arizona Fall League, left-hander reliever Jared Miller, named as one of two Arizona prospects to the league’s All-Star game this Saturday in Surprise Stadium, has emerged with a legitimate chance to improve the bullpen.

Coming into the Fall League’s mid-season classic, Miller appeared in six games for the East Division Salt River Rafters, and a recorded a 0.00 ERA. In 13 innings of work, Miller allowed four hits and walked one hitter. Thais also includes 24 strikeouts, and maintains a 1-0 record. Per one official with the Diamondbacks, Miller is “major-league ready right now,” was the observation.

One look at Miller’s 2016 season shows an ascendancy through the Diamondbacks’ minor league system as nothing short of astonishing. Beginning at A Kane County, the 6-7 native of Columbus, Ohio was promoted to Advance A Visalia, Double AA Mobile and finished the season with the Triple-A Reno Aces.

Is Miller’s next stop Chase Field? At this point, that’s a real possibility.

“I’m really competitive, and want to play against the best,” Miller said after a recent Fall League game. “I know the bullpen here was tough, and guys were coming in and out through a revolving door. Yes, I’m ready for the next level.”

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What makes Miller’s possibility of pitching in Chase Field next season all that more amazing was he reported to this past spring training as a starter. Coming off nine starts at Rookie League Hillsboro and 12 starts at Kane County in 2015, Miller posted a combined a 11-7 record. Just before he stepped onto the practice fields at Salt River this past March, Arizona officials pulled him aside and said he would be transformed into a reliever.

“I had two choices,” he said. “I could reject that and suffer, or embrace the possibility. I like to look at myself as positive, so I ran with it.”

In concert with the decision to proceed as a reliever, Miller noted, “I’m focused for the moment.” That means he plans to report to Salt River in February determined to build off his success in the Fall League and welcome his commitment to the bullpen.

In addition to Miller, two other Arizona prospects were named to the East Division for Saturday’s All-Star game. These includes first baseman Kevin Cron and infielder Dawel Lugo.

For his part, Cron struggled through the Fall League through the opening four weeks of the seaon. Coming into the All-Star game, the 6-5, 245-pound native of Placentia, Calif., was hitting .181 (10-for-55) with three home runs and nine RBIs.

“I started slow, and the All-Selection was unexpected,” he said after a recent Fall League game. “The competition here is very good. You can’t let down on any pitch or during any at-bat.”

Coming from a baseball family, Cron’s dad, Chris, is the Diamondbacks minor league hitting coordinator and his brother C. J., hit .287 (113-for-407, 16 HRs, 69 RBIs) with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

“We’re a baseball family and always talking baseball,” Cron smiled. “Always getting helpful hints, and the discussions are really rewarding.”

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For Lugo, the native of Bani, in the Dominican Republic was hitting .298 (17-for-57) and four doubles.