News broke last week that the Diamondbacks had signed infielder free-agent Wilmer Flores to a one-year deal with an option for 2020. However, with the additional signing of Tim Locastro from the Yankees, the Arizona 40-man roster was also full, meaning that the team would have to cut someone to free up space for Flores. There were several potential candidates considered at the time:
#Diamondbacks will have to DFA someone once their deal with Wilmer Flores is official. Candidates:— Jon Becker (@jonbecker_) January 16, 2019
1B/OF Christian Walker
INF/OF Ildemaro Vargas
OF Socrates Brito
SP/RP Matt Koch
RP Jake Barrett
RP Robby Scott
However, in the end, the team went in a slightly different direction - though I’m still claiming credit for my prediction that it would be one of our “Easily replaceable bullpen parts”! It’s sad that Jared Miller is not deemed to fall into that category: as recently as a year ago, he seemed to have a remarkably bright future, having destroyed batters at both Double-A and Triple-A in the 2017 season. He had a 2.93 ERA over 70.2 innings between the two levels, with an eye-popping 94 strikeouts, a rate of 12.0 per nine innings, prompting comparisons to another power left-handed reliever with the same last name (and, coincidentally, the same height at 6’7”), Andrew Miller.
Our Miller was added to the 40-man roster in November, and was expect to compete for a bullpen spot out of spring training. [We interviewed him in December] But this year proved a disaster for the pitcher, who turned 25 in August. Over 38 appearances for the Reno Aces, he had a 7.71 ERA: while the strikeouts were still there (52 in 42 IP), Jared completely lost all control, walking 63 batters, or one for every two outs he recorded. Rather than the hoped-for promotion to the big leagues, he was sent down to Double-A Mobile just before his birthday. His stock as a prospect all but evaporated: 1500prospects.com, for example, had him as our #15 going into last season. Now, he doesn’t even crack the top fifty.
Today’s news certainly means his future with the D-backs is very murky, especially considering the names given preference over Miller. The high strikeouts mean I can see another team taking a shot at Miller as a low-risk reclamation project, and seeing if he can be “fixed”. If so, it’s a sad note on which his time here ends, and is another lesson in the ephemeral nature of pitching prospects.