The SF Giants were very busy on Monday, adding veteran reliever Luke Jackson to a two-year, $11.5 million contract. They also acquired hard-throwing pitching prospect Erik Miller in a move that sent Yunior Marté to the Philadelphia Phillies.
SF Giants add hard-throwing pitching prospect in trade with the Phillies
Marté occupied a spot on the 40-man roster, so the Giants made a pre-emptive move by trading him to announce the Jackson signing. On the other hand, Miller was not on the Phillies' roster, so San Francisco added an intriguing arm in exchange for a reliever who was on the back-end of the 40-man roster.
The Phillies selected Miller in the fourth round of the 2019 draft out of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. He is not necessarily a local product as he attended high school in Missouri, but the trade brings him much closer to where he spent three collegiate seasons.
Given his draft pedigree, the Phillies had high expectations for Miller. However, being selected in the 2019 draft while battling a nagging injury has made development an even steeper uphill battle. Similar to any prospect, the 24-year-old lost a year of development time in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and he tallied just 12.2 in 2021 after sustaining a rotator cuff injury.
He showed a promising pitch mix that included a high-90's fastball with a good slider, changeup, and curveball up until that point but in very limited action. However, the 2022 season a positive step forward for Miller as was able to remain on the field.
The left-handed hurler began the season in Double-A, recording a 2.23 ERA, 2.56 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, and a 2.59 SO/W ratio across 36.1 frames for the Reading Fightin Phils. He did not allow a home run before earning a promotion to Triple-A near the end of the season.
Miller tallied a 7.50 ERA with 18 strikeouts against 14 walks in 10 appearances following the promotion. He continued to register high strikeout totals but command is an issue. Despite the injuries and lack of game action, Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin of Fangraphs ranked Miller as the No. 11 prospect in the Phillies' system at the start of 2022, citing his strong repertoire:
"When healthy, Miller was pitching at the peak levels of velocity he showed in college, working in the 93-95 range... His changeup was his best weapon in college but his two breaking balls each have big spin and distinct shape from one another. It’s a starter’s mix with fringe command and an injury history shading Miller toward the bullpen in our estimation. He still has five-and-dive fourth starter ceiling because of the pitch mix. "- Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin
Miller had a solid season in 2022, but the Phillies chose not to protect him from the Rule 5 draft this winter. MLB.Com has updated its Giants prospect rankings with Miller coming in at No. 23. He is one spot ahead of fellow 2019 draftee Hunter Bishop.
The Giants needed to make a move to finalize the Luke Jackson signing and used that move to acquire an intriguing arm. Given that Miller has previously appeared with Triple-A, he will be a name to watch in 2023.