The attention is coming, whether McHenry senior Bobby Miller is ready or not.
Every time he steps on the mound for a start, there will be scouts with speed guns aimed his direction, analyzing the 6-foot-5 right-hander’s every move.
The approach Miller is taking could not be more low-key, although the next three months might determine whether Miller takes his scholarship to Louisville or is selected high enough in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft on June 12 to turn professional.
“Honestly, the season hasn’t even started, so I don’t even know exactly where I’m at right now,” Miller said. “As of right now, I’m just trying to focus on this high school season.”
With Miller and Mike Lasiewicz, who is signed with Northern Illinois, at the top of the rotation, McHenry expects to contend in the Fox Valley Conference and be a team that can make a deep run into the Class 4A state tournament.
Miller, a two-time Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection, just wants to take care of his business on the field and let the rest work itself out.
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s great for Bobby, but he really doesn’t want to think about that stuff, he just wants us to be good,” Warriors coach Brian Rockweiler said. “Bobby really downplays that stuff. You try to talk to him about it and he doesn’t really talk about it much. He just says, ‘We’re going to be really good.’ ”
Miller was 5-2 with a 1.98 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 55 innings last season. He struck out nine and homered as the Warriors beat Cary-Grove, 4-0, in their C-G Regional opener.
MIller gained about 15 pounds and now weighs 208. He worked on mechanics with pitching coach Dan Durst at Players Choice Academy in Algonquin about trying to stay taller so he throws more downhill. He was hitting the low 90s last season and was clocked in preseason workouts at 92 mph, Rockweiler said. The thing is, Miller said he was pacing himself and not yet throwing at 100 percent.
“He’s gotten a lot better,” Rockweiler said. “He’s always been good, but on a consistency level, he looks like he’s in midseason form. His offspeed pitches are great.”
Another FVC coach, Hampshire’s John Sarna, coached the Chicago Scouts Association team at the 2016 WWBA World Championships in October in Jupiter, Florida.
“[MIller] has really taken it to another level,” Sarna said. “Our last day there, Bobby pitched two innings, and that’s the best many people have seen him. He was outstanding. His stuff was electric. There was a White Sox scout there glowing about Bobby’s progress. He said, ‘I’m really looking forward to seeing him in the spring because this is the last opportunity before his first draft.’ ”
Sarna said he thinks Miller will be drafted somewhere. Then comes what money the drafting team will offer, and whether Miller and his parents will consider forgoing college. Rockweiler said Miller has had four in-home visits from major league teams.
“We hear different things,” Rockweiler said. “I talked to [one scout], they said they didn’t want to upset Louisville because they have respect for their coach (Dan McDonnell), but he might be upset this time. Another scout was saying they have a first-round pick, but they don’t take high school kids in the first round, but he didn’t see Bobby there when they pick in the second round. If he continues to throw like he has thrown in front of some of those guys, he can definitely help himself.”
Miller enhanced his status more last month at the Prep Baseball Report Super 60 showcase in Mokena. Again, he showed great command with his velocity that grabbed scouts’ attention.
Miller has worked with Durst in the offseasons since he was 14. He has pitched with Elite Baseball Training in recent summers, but will not pitch with that team this year.
“Things have been going pretty well,” Miller said. “I think they liked my size and my offspeed, the way my mechanics have changed.”
Rockweiler appreciates Miller’s even-keel attitude and his work ethic, along with his ability.
“He’s always led by example; he’s always first in sprints, he never takes anything off,” Rockweiler said. “He lifts hard in the weight room, he does all the extra stuff. He’s taking a more active role of being a leader.”