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Bobby Miller wows in Dodger Stadium debut

SB Nation logo SB Nation 4/6/2022 Eric Stephen
Dodgers prospect Bobby Miller struck out Shohei Ohtani, his first batter faced at Dodger Stadium on April 5, 2022 in the Freeway Series exhibition in Los Angeles. © Dodgers on Twitter Dodgers prospect Bobby Miller struck out Shohei Ohtani, his first batter faced at Dodger Stadium on April 5, 2022 in the Freeway Series exhibition in Los Angeles.

Bobby Miller had one of eight temporary lockers in the Dodgers clubhouse that was overly crowded for the Freeway Series exhibition that marked the end of spring training. But his performance on the mound Tuesday night against the Angels, his first time pitching in a competitive game at Dodger Stadium, suggested that it won’t be long until Miller has a real stall of his own.

The Dodgers drafted Miller in the first round out of Louisville in 2020, and he enters this season as the top pitching prospect in the organization. The 6’5 right-hander was ranked among the top 100 prospects on at least six national lists, with an average rank of 60th in MLB by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, FanGraphs, The Athletic, and MLB Pipeline.

Miller pitched three scoreless innings and struck out two on Tuesday, allowing only a single and two walks, plus one 376-foot flyout to center by Anthony Rendon that brought a sigh of relief from the pitcher’s mound.

Almost half of Miller’s 55 pitches were four-seam fastballs, averaging 99.4 mph. Seven his triple digits on the radar gun, including three fastballs to Shohei Ohtani looking in the first inning.

Dodgers third base coach Dino Ebel was mic’d up on the SportsNet LA broadcast, and in the bottom of the first inning offered his first impression of seeing Miller pitch live in a game.

“Woo, it’s real. That’s some gas,” Ebel said on the broadcast. “I heard a lot of good stuff about him, and that’s pretty good stuff there in the first. Facing Ohtani as the first hitter is something he’s never going to forget. It’s something I’m never going to forget.”

Miller to start his minor league season will head to Double-A Tulsa, where he made his final three starts last year. He’s been mentioned by prospect rankers, by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, and others as someone who could pitch in the majors this season.

“It wouldn’t surprise me. Pure talent, I see no reason why he won’t make his debut at some point,” manager Dave Roberts told reporters before Tuesday’s game. “But you’ve got to go out there and play and perform, and see where it takes us.”

Up next

The Dodgers have two off days, one of which will be spent traveling to Denver. Opening day is Friday afternoon against the Rockies (1:10 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA), with Walker Buehler making his first opening day start. Left-hander Kyle Freeland starts for Colorado.

What’s left in between is the Dodgers finalizing their opening day roster, which likely means sending down one pitcher, and announcing the starting pitchers on Saturday and Sunday at Coors Field.

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