James Loney was viewed by many as a pitching prospect in 2002. The Dodgers made him a first baseman. Ethan Martin was looked at as a third baseman, but the Dodgers drafted him as a pitcher in 2008.
And now we come to Aaron Miller. The 2009 supplemental first-round draft pick was a standout two-way player at Baylor University. The Dodgers made him their first pitch that year and, to some surprise, made him a pitcher. In fact, the Dodgers' first two picks that year were good, two-way college players -- the other being Blake Smith.
Miller was moved to the outfield and will get his first shot at being a full-time outfielder with the Great Lakes Loons.
While the Dodgers need pretty much anything but another outfielder, the options are limited for the lefty.
Miller burst onto the scene in 2009 by posting a 2.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 12.0 K/9 in his debut season. The following year, he pitched well with the Inland Empire 66ers before getting promoted to Chattanooga. To say he struggled on the hill with the Lookouts would be an understatement. He posted a 7.04 ERA in six starts.
Fighting through injury for much of the 2011 season, he threw just 36 innings that season. He was decent, but not great.
Last season, he made 25 starts for the Lookouts and was adequate at very best. His control just isn't there and hasn't developed the way the Dodgers had hoped.
However, Miller showed promise with the bat last season. He hit .297/.333/.541 with a home run, two doubles, two triples and struck out just a quarter of his plate appearances. For a pitcher, that's not half-bad.
The 25-year-old pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen this season (11 games, one start). The options are: make Miller a reliever who might be just a LOOGY or convert him to the outfield.
The Dodgers chose the latter.
Eric Stephen of True Blue LA has some quotes from Vice President, Player Development DeJon Watson.
"'This was something the organization has been talking about for close to a year. His velocity had dropped and he’s had some nagging injuries. He was a two-way player coming out of Baylor when we drafted him and we liked what we saw in his bat when he pitched.'"and
"We felt this was the right time to make the switch given his age and his desire to continue pursuing his big league dream and help this organization."Here's hoping the conversion is successful. The Dodgers had success with moving Kenley Jansen from the field to the mound and, as of now, are having limited success doing the same with Pedro Baez. If Miller makes the transition successfully, he'll be the first to make this conversion in quite some time.
The Loons are struggling offensively. Normally, a 25-year-old going to Low-A would help that, but it remains to be seen if Miller can make the transition.
We'll see what happens.
Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue