In 2013 he had a .301 batting average for the Wolverines and led the conference in RBI with 44. But his real ability was defense where his athletic play is what first brought his game to the attention of pro scouts.
Miller, 20, won two consecutive Foothill Conference Gold Gloves and was named a Junior College All-American. He finished first in runners caught stealing percentage with a .467 and had a fielding percentage above .990.
The Hemet, California native has been getting the majority of the starts behind the plate for the Emeralds and after a strong start in June he slumped in July. But at this level the emphasis is on what he can do as opposed to what he is doing consistently. At 6’3”, 215 lbs. he has the ideal size and build for a catcher and now it’s just about adjustments in the pro game.
What made you decide to go pro and give up your scholarship to Nebraska?
Ryan Miller: I thought the contract offer that they made me was pretty fair and they also offered to pay for school. So I thought it was the best of both worlds; a chance to live out my dream and get an education.
Did you think the Padres would be the team to select you?
Ryan Miller: No, I didn’t know it would be San Diego until two minutes before I was picked. I thought I was either going to go to the Blue Jays or the Red Sox. Toronto had me do a private workout for them and I was talking to one of their scouts quite a bit.
What has been your biggest adjustment to pro ball?
Ryan Miller: Hitting. The pitching is much better than what I was used to in Junior College. All of the pitchers have much better command and the velocity is much better.
You’ve been described as being very athletic, without the qualifier for a catcher. What attracts you so much to catching?
Ryan Miller: In high school I was more of a pitcher and then in my senior year our catcher quit. I had caught some before so I kind of took over. When I went to college they saw me as a catcher and I’ve really gotten into it. I like having the ability to control the game and being in every play.
How much of the game do you actually call and what has been the adjustment like to calling a pro game?
Ryan Miller: I call entire the entire game. I’ve caught all of our pitchers in the bullpen, so I know what they like to throw and when. Also a lot of calling a game depends on what the batter is doing; where they are holding their hands and where they are in the box.
How has it been getting used to the wood bats?
Ryan Miller: It has been an adjustment. When you hit a pitch with a metal bat the barrel is so much bigger you can pretty much hit it anywhere. With wood you have to really work harder to square it up and if you don’t do it right you can break a lot of bats.
Who pays for the broken bats?
Ryan Miller: The team will supply you with a particular brand, we use Rawlings. Some of the guys have contracts through their agents with different brands so they will get a certain number for free.
I don’t have one of those deals, so I use what the team gives me.
Everyone who likes baseball dreams of playing it as a pro. How has the reality of pro ball been compared to what you thought it would be?
Ryan Miller: I thought it would be a little bit different but I might have been thinking too much of what it will be like if I make it to the major leagues. But so far it has been great.
I know you haven’t had very much time but what is the biggest part of your game that you want to improve upon?
Ryan Miller: Hitting at the plate, I need to get better. I can always work on my defense but so far I’ve been happy about how I’ve handled the staff and shutting down the running game.