Bobby Miller Finds A Silver Lining
Righthander Bobby Miller found a silver lining in a year of pandemic-fueled turmoil.
"When I think about it, I think Covid helped me a ton," said Miller, the 2020 first-round pick out of Louisville who reported to the Dodgers' alternate training site at the University of Southern California after signing.
"If it wasn't for this, I wouldn't have been able to go to USC with those guys, facing the hitters I did . . . That was a huge help for me, especially (minor league pitching coordinator) Don Alexander and (pitching coordinator) Rob Hill being out there at USC. Those guys helped me a ton in my game.
"I'll forever use the things they've been teaching me."
Rather than heading to a short-season league to begin his pro career, Miller received more rigorous coaching and faced more advanced hitters at the alternate training site.
The 22-year-old Miller was able to use the time to refine his delivery and adopt a spike-curveball.
"They're not a cookie-cutter type of organization, which I love about these guys," Miller said. "Really, I mentioned that I wanted to be more direct towards home plate with my glove side, my front arm. I kept working on that, so I don't land closed as I'm striding to the plate . . .
"My arm slot I would definitely say raised up a little higher, which improved my four-seam (fastball) a lot, the spin on that."
Miller said his curveball grip change was part of a broader focus on improving his secondary pitches.
"I changed my grip on my curveball, my changeup and also my slider. Those three pitches for me just kind of took off," the 6-foot-5 righthander said.
The new curveball grip was something Miller said he was "messing with" in bullpen sessions.
"As I was feeling it, I was thinking, 'I kind of like this,' because I have kind of big hands. It was sitting in my hand very well," he said. "I kept on working with it in my bullpens and the spin rate went up on that. (And) I was getting better shape on it—a different shape than my slider which was very helpful."
— In a pair of trades with the Athletics and Marlins just before spring training, the Dodgers acquired third baseman Sheldon Neuse, lefthander Alex Vesia and righthanders Gus Varland and Kyle Hurt. Neuse has an outside chance to make the Opening Day roster. Vesia could see time in the Dodgers' bullpen at some point during the season. Righthander Dylan Floro was sent to the Marlins. Lefthander Adam Kolarek and minor league outfielder Cody Thomas were sent to the A's.
— The Dodgers also sent righthander Josh Sborz to the Rangers for righthander Jhan Zambrano. Zambrano, 19, was signed by the Rangers as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela. He made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2019, recording a 2.55 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 60 innings over 12 games (11 starts).