Dodgers select two-way Baylor prospect
Los Angeles drafts left-hander as pitcher at No. 36
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers selected Aaron Miller, a left-handed pitcher from Baylor University, as their top pick in Tuesday's First-Year Player Draft.
A 21-year-old junior, Miller was the 36th player selected overall, the sandwich pick coming to the Dodgers from Atlanta as compensation for the signing of Type-A free agent Derek Lowe. The Dodgers forfeited their first-round pick (No. 16 overall) to Arizona as compensation for the signing of Type-A free agent Orlando Hudson.
Miller is 6-foot-3, 205 pounds and a two-way prospect, but the Dodgers drafted him as a pitcher. He went 3-3 with a 5.12 ERA in 13 games, with 65 strikeouts in 51 innings. As a hitter, he batted .310 with 12 homers and 47 RBIs in 186 at-bats.
"Aaron is a physical athlete who has had a limited amount of time on the mound," said Logan White, assistant general manager of scouting. "With the help of our player development staff, we see a bright future for him as a left-handed pitcher in the Erik Bedard mold. He is a terrific competitor and a first-class person with great makeup. ... He's definitely a prospect as a position player, but we like him better as a pitcher."
White was with the Orioles when they drafted Bedard.
Miller was drafted in the 11th round as a hitter by the Colorado Rockies out of high school three years ago, but he wanted the college experience. He played the outfield his freshman year at Baylor and pitched in only eight games his sophomore season. He played in 13 games with Chatham of the Cape Cod League last summer, but his season was cut short after undergoing surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder.
"That was weird," he said of the injury. "It really pushed me to start throwing again and it steamrolled into the season. As the season went on, I thought I could do this for a living."
Miller, a friend of Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw from their Texas high-school days, worked out for the club at Dodger Stadium on Monday to seal the deal and indicated he will be a quick sign because he wants to "get innings under my belt."
"The Dodgers are one of the great baseball teams, an A-plus club," Miller said. "I couldn't be more ecstatic."
The last time the Dodgers forfeited their first-round pick was 2005 and it was well spent, going as compensation for the signing of Lowe. They didn't draft until overall pick No. 40 that year and used it on Luke Hochevar, whom they did not sign.
White has taken a pitcher with his first pick in the past seven Drafts. The only position player he'd taken first since he's run the Dodgers' Draft was James Loney, a two-way high school star, in 2002.
Other first-day selections for the Dodgers:
Round 2 (compensation pick), Blake Smith, OF, University of California: He's 6-2, 220 pounds and some scouts consider him a pitcher, but the Dodgers drafted him as a power-hitting corner outfielder, especially after the long-ball display he put on during a workout Monday at Dodger Stadium, where he showed a shoulder injury was healed.
Round 2 (regular pick), Garrett Gould, RHP, Maize High School, Kansas: The athletic Gould, projected as a first-round pick because of a nasty curveball, dropped in the Draft with a commitment to Wichita State. He's still looking for first-round money and just might get it. He's 6-4, 200 pounds and was a quarterback on the football team and a forward on the basketball team. He went 6-1 with a 0.78 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 45 innings.
Round 3, Brett Wallach, RHP, Orange Coast College: The son of Dodgers Triple-A manager Tim Wallach, Brett helped lead his school to the state title. He throws a hard sinker that White compared to Orel Hershiser's. His brother, Matt, was drafted by the Dodgers in the 22nd round in 2007 and is a catcher in the farm system.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.