LA's top pitching prospect K's Ohtani, 'almost blacked out'

Miller wows 'nervous' parents on 23rd birthday

April 6th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- His big league career has yet to begin, but Bobby Miller already has an unforgettable moment under his belt.

Celebrating his 23rd birthday on Tuesday night, Miller wasted no time making an impression in his start against the Angels, a 5-0 victory in the preseason finale at Dodger Stadium. He did so by striking out the very first batter he faced: none other than the reigning American League MVP, Shohei Ohtani.

“Almost blacked out a little bit,” said Miller. “A little nervous going into it, but probably the highlight of my career right there."

Miller, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect and No. 2 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, threw three scoreless frames, his eye-catching velocity on full display from the get-go. His first pitch of the night was a 100.2 mph four-seamer, and he hit 100 mph six more times, with his final pitch of the night registering as a 99.6 mph fastball.

But it was that at-bat against Ohtani, ending with a well-placed fastball on the inside corner to catch the two-way star looking, that really established what Miller is capable of.

“That’s a nice feather in your cap, your first big league punchout being Ohtani,” said manager Dave Roberts. “I’m certain he will [always remember it]. Obviously, when he’s working ahead, the stuff, he can get anyone out.”

Miller’s big moment was made all the more meaningful by the fact that he had family in the crowd, including his parents, Bob and Tracy.

“I know my parents were probably more nervous than I was,” said Miller. “It means the world that they were here, especially for my birthday."

Beyond any one moment, though, Tuesday was the culmination of an offseason of hard work for Miller, who put on some bulk and even added a couple of ticks of velocity to a fastball that previously averaged close to 97-98 mph. Miller’s four-seamer averaged 99.3 mph on Tuesday.

The big question now is how long it’ll be until Miller, who will start the year with Triple-A Oklahoma City, makes his official Major League debut. And there is still some work for him to do in terms of mastering his command, as just 29 of his 55 pitches went for strikes on Tuesday.

“Fastball command was pretty good,” said Miller. “All my other offspeed pitches definitely could have been a lot better, in the zone. Hitters probably would have respected [the offspeed pitches] a little more if I landed some in that first inning.”

Still, prior to the game, Roberts said “it wouldn’t surprise me” to see Miller with the big club some time during the 2022 season. He reiterated that after Miller’s outing, saying he doesn’t try to fight imagining the fireballer throwing impact innings for the Dodgers down the stretch.

“There’s a long way to go from here and then,” said Roberts. “But obviously, he’s a special person, special pitcher, so let’s hope that we can see him later this summer.”