The long wait is almost over for Brownwood Lion pitcher Shelby Miller, who is expected to be drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, which begins at 5 today.
Miller thrust himself into the national spotlight after tossing three consecutive no-hitters during his junior season, and since then speculation has ballooned that the Lions’ ace pitcher was destined for the Majors after his high school career was complete.
Now, time seems to the only formality standing between Miller and professional baseball — and time wasn’t passing quickly enough for the Brownwood High graduate Monday afternoon.
“Right now I’m just waiting for the process to happen, and it feels like it’s taking forever,” Miller said. “I know I’m going to be drafted, hopefully in the first round, and I’m just trying to figure out where I’m going. It’s an exciting deal, and I’m trying to speed this process up anyway I can.”
Miller has been consistently ranked among the top 20 prospects by a variety of baseball scouting services — including No. 11 by Baseball America. Scouts have been most impressed with Miller’s fast ball that has topped out at 98 mph this season, as well as his 12-6 curve ball in the mid-70s.
As of Monday afternoon, Miller believed there were approximately 20 teams interested in selecting him in the first round.
“I’ve been told I could fall anywhere from No. 2 to No. 21, from the Mariners to the Astros,” Miller said. “The draft is crazy. If some team picks a player some other team didn’t think they would pick, it could change the whole thing. I’ll find out where I’m going at 5 when the draft starts.”
Miller stated that several teams had called recently to gauge his interest and willingness to sign a contract, but he still is uncertain which team will select him.
“Teams are calling and wishing me good luck, being respectful and hoping things work out great for me,” Miller said. “And some teams right now are calling and asking for a price. I just tell them to call my agents.”
On Sunday, ESPN.com’s Keith Law revealed his latest mock first-round selections, which had Miller going with the 14th pick to the Texas Rangers. Rangers president and Hall of Fame fireballer Nolan Ryan was on hand to watch Miller in person during Brownwood’s 2-0 area playoff victory over Seminole in Abilene.
Miller stated he wouldn’t mind being selected by the Rangers or the Houston Astros, but he has no favorites when it comes to which organization drafts him.
“A lot of people wish I would stay in Texas, with the Rangers or the Astros,” Miller said. “That would be awesome for my family and friends and there’s a good chance I could go to either of those teams. But whatever team wants me, that’s obviously where I want to go, to a team that wants my talents and wants me to be pitching for them in the big leagues one day. Wherever I go, it’s going to be fun.”
Miller also has signed a national letter of intent to play for Texas A&M, which he had planned to honor, but it now appears the Aggies may never get the Brownwood hurler in uniform.
“If I get drafted in the first round and I’m offered the right contract, I’ll probably go ahead and start my professional career,” Miller said. “A&M is still there and it’s a great place to fall back on if things don’t work out. A&M is wishing me the best of luck and told me they would be the first to congratulate me if I go in the first round. A&M is awesome, the coaches are awesome, it’s a talented program and a place I might or might not be going.”
As a senior, Miller — who was named Gatorade Texas High School Baseball Player of the Year and voted the District 2-3A MVP — posted a 10-2 record with 154 strikeouts in 77.2 innings and carried a 1.60 ERA into his final start.
Miller concluded his storied high school career — which featured six no-hitters, including one this season in a 10-0 district road win at Graham on March 27 — Thursday as Brownwood fell in the Region I-3A championship game to Andrews, 9-7.
“Playing baseball with these guys was awesome,” Miller said. “Our playoff run shouldn’t have ended, we beat ourselves Thursday. We had too many errors at costly times. But it was an awesome run. The three seniors went out with a bang and we went further than we ever went before. I did it with the right guys and I love every one of them.”