An up-close look at the club as we approach Opening Day
By the time it was over, he had been named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year and was given the Bob Feller Award as the organization's Minor League pitcher of the year.Still, one spot start is the entirety of his experience in Triple-A, and the Indians, ever cautious with their prospects, don't want him to skip the valuable lessons that can be learned at that level. So even when an Opening Day rotation spot became available through an injury to Cliff Lee, it was Fausto Carmona, not Miller, who claimed it. That being said, Miller is best advised to get a short-term rental agreement in Buffalo. The Indians are not shy about touting him as a potential starter in the bigs this season. "We've never felt like Adam was a year away,'' general manager Mark Shapiro said. "We've always felt that he could impact our team sometime this year. We felt he had the level of talent that, whenever that time came, it would be evident. When he puts everything together, he can dominate the competition." Miller proved it last year, and he intends to prove it again in '07. Most importantly, he's proved he's healthy. Miller strained his throwing elbow during Spring Training two years ago and was promptly shut down for the first half of that '05 season. Fortunately, the injury did not require surgery, but it was still cause for concern as to how it would affect his delivery. As it turns out, Miller actually feels fortunate for what he went through. Because when his blazing fastball didn't come back completely intact, he was forced to reinvent his approach to hitters. "I learned a lot from the injury," he said. "I definitely think I became more of a pitcher. The fastball wasn't all the way there, so I started relying on my other stuff. And when I went to the Arizona Fall League [after the '05 season], the changeup was actually my best pitch. It was kind of weird." Miller admitted it felt a little weird to resume throwing after the long layoff brought on by the injury. "It felt more like I hadn't thrown in a couple years," he said. "At first, it kind of impacted me, but, as I started doing more and more, it was just normal pitching." Now that he's fully healthy, Miller is putting together abnormally effective outings that will only serve to hasten his march to the Majors. But he's not going to worry about his timetable. "I just have to take care of my business," he said, "and see what happens."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.