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Jared Miller interview, part one

If you don’t know Miller now, you may well do so soon. Here’s your chance to learn more about a name you could hear a lot about in 2018.

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

However, anyone familiar with the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system, will already be well aware of Miller’s name, as one of our top relief pitching prospects, and someone who was recently added to the team’s 40-man roster. All things being equal, we could see him in the majors next season - possibly as soon as Opening Day. We recently had a chance to catch up with Jared and ask about a range of topics, including his off-season work program and life in the minor-leagues.

What has the off-season been like? Are you "staring out the window and waiting for spring" as Rogers Hornsby said?

It's been fun. At the beginning of the off-season I had a few weddings, some former team-mates from college getting married, so I like to try and make to as many of those as I can. Relaxed for a little bit, and I've been back home for the last couple of weeks in Indianapolis, just working out and getting ready to head to Arizona, early January.

Are you actively working on specific aspects of your game, or is it more about maintaining conditioning, etc.?

This time of year, it's more about overall strength for me, just making sure I feel good about where my body's at, as I get ready to start throwing in the next couple of weeks.

How disciplined did you have to be over Thanksgiving. Was that a struggle?

[Laughs] No, I let myself go pretty good over Thanksgiving! It's hard to say no to Mama's cooking! I let those couple of days be a wash, and then I got back in the gym, Friday after Thanksgiving. It's always a good time of year.

Do you get to train with other players, or is the off-season mostly a solitary pursuit.

When I'm back home in Indiana, I work out with a guy named Dillon Peters, he got called up by the Marlins this year. We grew up playing against each other in high school, so we work out with the same trainer back home. Years past, I've been in Nashville, working out with my Vanderbilt team-mates. I like to work out with at least one or two people that are in the same career path as I am. It helps push me to get better.

Did you consider playing in winter ball?

I had a pretty big workload this year, I threw 70-some innings, though I didn't even think about it. But going to the Dominican is something that I've always wanted to do. I studied Spanish in college, and going to a Spanish-speaking country is something I've always been interested in. So who knows, maybe I'll get over there at some point.

Congratulations on being added to the 40-man roster. Was that something you expected would happen this winter?

I expected to be added, but at the same time, when you get that call, it's still a pretty cool moment. Just seeing that they value you enough to put you onto the roster, and have a chance to compete for a spot in spring training is a pretty special deal to me.

Going back, what stands out in your mind about draft day, when you were an 11th-round pick?

It was kind of a weird day, because we were playing in the Super Regional in college, and we were getting ready for a game. I found out that I got picked, and went on to play for another couple of weeks, and win the national championship. Then it all happened really fast. Playing in pro ball is something I'd wanted to do for a long time, and it was just the right opportunity. I felt good about what the Diamondbacks had planned for me, and I just went with it.

Had the D-backs been in touch with you beforehand, or was their selection a surprise?

I didn't really know who was going to pick me. I knew they were interested, and I'd talked to them before the draft. But as we got into the third day of the draft, I really didn't know what was going to happen, or who was going to pick me. When I heard my name called, it was kind of a cool feeling. Then we went and played a game, so you really didn't have much time to let it all sink in.

Hitters have to adjust going from metal to wood bats, after they are drafted. How did you find the transition?

I think it's pretty similar. Obviously, you don't deal with the broken bats in college, with the aluminum bats. Probably the biggest difference is, you've got a chance to really get in on guys, and the ball doesn't go as far off a broken bat as it would a jammed college hitter. That's nice for the pitchers, but at the end of the day, good pitchers will still get outs, and vice-versa.

What are the best and worst things about life in the minor leagues?

I think the best part is probably the amount of time you get to spend with your team-mates, especially in the lower levels. You're on bus-rides, sometimes for 6-8 hours, depending on what league you're in. Just really getting to know guys, where they came from, what works for them, I really enjoy that part of the game.

The worst part comes from the exact opposite of the camaraderie on the bus - the road-trips in general can be pretty taxing on the body. You're playing 140 games in 152 days, which is hard to prepare for when you've never done it. But to me, "the grind," or whatever you want to call it, is a cool experience, and it teaches you lessons that I don't think you can learn in any other profession or lifestyle, just because it's so unique to minor-league baseball.

Are there a lot of practical jokes and so on, to try and break up the tension and deal with that "grind"?

The best teams in the minor leagues are the ones where you can be serious on the field, and have a loose atmosphere in the locker-room. Like we said, playing 140 games can get to you, if you can't separate the work from your outside life. The last thing you want to do is come to the park and not have fun. Keeping it loose in the locker-room is something that's pretty important.

What do you do, personally, to maintain that separation?

I think it comes down to getting to know guys. A lot of guys like to go to the movies, like other sports. A lot of guys do fantasy sports. Whatever you do to get your mind off the game when you're not playing the game. I do a little bit of everything. I like to go to coffee shops, hang out, keep in touch with my buddies back home from college. That's really my routine before I go to the field every day, check in with what going on with a couple of buddies, see how they're doing, what's going on with them. It really helps keep my mind off the game and keeps friendships sharp.

[In the second part, later this week, we hear about Jared’s transition from starting to relief, his surge in the Arizona Fall League, and learn his favorite baseball movie]