Former Mastodons pitcher Miller works back to TinCaps He threw three scoreless innings on Monday in Peoria.
Fort Wayne TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras says players face a clear choice of reactions when they are sent down the minor-league chain.
“They can be mad, be sad and mope around,” Contreras said. “Or they can take it as a challenge to get better and get back to being in a position to move up.”
TinCaps pitcher Evan Miller chose the latter, and he’s moving back in the right direction.
After the San Diego Padres sent Miller down from the TinCaps to extended spring training on May 8, he worked hard to find his groove. After struggling with his control in Fort Wayne, Miller regained his touch with his fastball and slider when he was assigned to short season Tri-City (Pasco, Wash.) in June. He pitched 13.2 innings, striking out 14 and walking only one while compiling a 1.98 ERA.
He didn’t mope. He attacked.
“I understood why I was being sent down: I didn’t perform,” Miller said. “There was no point in being mad about it. I’m just going to be happy wherever I’m at and work.”
Miller was promoted Saturday to the TinCaps, and threw three scoreless innings in a 2-1 loss at Peoria on Monday. The TinCaps play Clinton at 7:05 tonight at Parkview Field, the first of a six-game home stand.
“He needed to work on getting strike one and attacking the hitters with his slider effectively,” Contreras said. “He was doing that at Tri-City and I think he came back feeling better and with more confidence.”
Miller, 22, is from LaPorte, went to college at IPFW and played baseball for the Mastodons. He was drafted by the Padres in the 22nd round in 2016.
Playing in Fort Wayne feels like home, he said, because of his time in college and playing close enough for family and friends to make the trip. Miller took a trip to LaPorte on the TinCaps’ off day on Tuesday to visit his family.
He gave up three hits in three innings in his first outing back with the TinCaps, and said he hopes to be sharper the next time he takes the mound.
“I didn’t feel like it was my best stuff,” he said. “There were a lot of nerves because I had been up there, failed and got sent down, and it was my first time back. So I had a little bit of nerves but I was attacking the zone. I didn’t have my best stuff, but I had enough pitches to get through three scoreless innings. Hopefully, the nerves will be gone (next outing).”
Contreras describes Miller as a quiet player who is focused on doing his job.
“I really like my fastball and when I’m throwing my best, I get it down in the zone with some sink on it and get guys swinging early,” Miller said.
Miller was a starting pitcher for the Mastodons, but has been a reliever in the minors.
“Initially, I thought it was going to be pretty tough, but I got used to it pretty fast,” he said. “Getting hot really fast is the biggest issue, but it only took a couple of weeks to get used to that.”
Miller’s goal is to keep his pitching career on the upswing from now on.
“It’s never fun to get sent down. I remember that feeling,” Contreras said. “But you have to accept it as part of the process. It’s the nature of the game.” <br>
<center> Up next </center><br>
First pitch: Clinton at TinCaps, 7:05 tonight
TV: Comcast Network 81
Listen: ESPN Radio 1380-AM & 100.9-FM, TinCapsRadio.com, and the TuneIn app.