Chicago Cubs: Tyson Miller is a diamond in the rough

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs found Tyson Miller in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He’s been nothing short of amazing for the Tennessee Smokies in 2019.

The Chicago Cubs grabbed California Baptist University (CBU) pitcher Tyson Miller in the fourth round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Located approximately 60 miles to the east of Los Angeles, the school that had an undergraduate enrolled under 7,000 students was producing several pitchers that were being drafted. Guys like Dylan Stowell, Justin Montgomery, Garett King, and Jeremy McDonald are all currently in minor league affiliates for big league clubs.

Tyson Miller is from Fairfield, California which is just outside San Francisco, but he was particularly drawn to CBU because of their ability to produce pitching talent:

"“California Baptist has had a streak of pitchers being drafted over the last few years” Miller told me in a recent interview “and continued even into the 2018 draft. Being in California I thought CBU (D2 at the time) was just as good as D1 programs”"

CBU officially joined the Western Athletic Conference in January 2017 giving the school NCAA Division I status and making it more enticing for potential major league talent to come play their collegiate career there.

Back to Miller. He made 10 starts as a true freshman in 2014 good for a 7-1 record in 78.2 innings while recording 60 strikeouts to the tune of a 2.63 ERA. Flash forward to 2015, Miller tossed 86.2 innings with a 3.32 ERA and was voted to the All-PacWest second team. In his junior year, Miller threw 107.0 innings with 92 strikeouts while allowing just 4 HR’s and a 2.27 ERA.

That was good enough for the Cubs to grab him in the 2016 draft and was assigned to short-season Eugene shortly after. Miller made four starts with the Emeralds and struck out 14 batters in 22.2 innings pitched. He did allow 10 earned runs and four home runs in that time and decided to work on things in the Arizona Fall League. He made just one start but pitched 6.0 innings while striking out three and not allowing a run to end his first professional season.

Miller was assigned to Single-A South Bend to start the 2017 season and tossed 120.2 innings while striking out 99 batters but home runs still continued to be a problem for him as he allowed 10 that year. Flash forward to 2018 at High-A Myrtle Beach, it was relatively the same results so that’s when he decided to add another pitch in the 2018 offseason.

"“I was taught a spiked curveball this off season while in the Cubs Camps in Arizona and it’s still a learning pitch. I think it helps to develop my pitch tunneling. My SL/FB combo works well and the CB/FB combo can work even better when locating my pitches all around the strike zone. Adding the CB helps me had more weapons later in the game when I’m facing a hitter for the 3rd time.”"

He began this season in Double-A and he has seen the improvement from adding another pitch to his arsenal. In eight starts, Miller has pitched 46.0 innings while striking out 41 batters to the tune of a 1.17 ERA. He has also allowed just three home runs on the year. So what’s been the biggest difference between High-A and Double-A ball?

"“The biggest thing I’ve noticed about AA is scouting reports. It’s the first time I’ve had 5 game series against teams so I need to know the hitters strengths and weaknesses. I need to know how to throw to these hitters now and also need to make sure I don’t get into patterns when facing a team a 2nd and 3rd time.Cubs are big in analytics and it’s been a long year and a half of learning about what works and what doesn’t. Spin rates and spin efficiency help show you why certain pitches are working and what you should throw more or less of. Analytics also helps with recognizing patterns like if you throw 86 percent fastballs away to lefties when behind in the count for example. Just information like that can help you be less predictable.”"

The Smokies have a pair of pitchers that fans should be excited about. Both Tyson Miller and Cory Abbott make for quite the 1-2 punch as part of a Smokies pitching staff that is third in innings pitched in the Southern League.

Speaking of innings pitched, Miller has been pitching deeper into games having gone at least seven innings in both of his last two starts and at least six innings in his last five games. So why has he been so successful going deeper into games?

"“My goal as a starting pitching is to try and go as long into a game as possible. I’ve always taken pride in being a “workhorse.” I try to get outs early and keep my pitch count down so I can go deep into games. I want to attack hitters and compete on the mound instead of trying to get swing and misses. I like soft contact quick outs to keep the pace of play going and pitch count down. I was taught in college to have a quick tempo. To get the sign, make a competitive pitch, get the ball back, get on the rubber, and repeat. No wasted time. Keeps the defense light on their feet.”"

Miller is a guy that could very easily be promoted to Triple-A Iowa in the next month or so and a potential starter in the big league rotation next year, especially if he keeps this up. You have to love his mindset of wanting to be a workhorse, of knowing how to get guys out and his competitive nature.

Next. Cory Abbott on the fast track to Wrigley. dark

Perhaps it’s his pre-game music that gets him so amped up?

"“My game day music varies on how my mood is that day. Sometimes I need to calm myself down before I go out and warm up and other days I need to get pumped up. Whether it’s some House Music to get some good vibes going or it’s modern day rap to get me pumped, I just go with what I’m feeling that day. Also, on days I don’t pitch I watch my shows on Netflix or play cards in the locker room. When I’m not at the field I’m usually playing MLB The Show on my play station or Fortnite.”"

A special thank you to Tyson Miller (@Tyson_Miller07) for taking the time to speak with me.