Reliever Miller returns to Rockies organization

January 15, 2011 | 7:47 pm | 5  

Reliever Jim Miller, a footnote in Colorado Rockies history, returned to the organization, having agreed to a minor league contract. The Rockies traded Miller and another minor league pitcher to the Orioles in January 2007 for pitcher Rodrigo Lopez. He suffered a season-ending arm injury in late July 2007, and Franklin Morales ultimately assumed Lopez’s spot in the rotation and helped the Rockies reach the postseason.

In addition to Miller, left-hander Josh Muecke, who will return to the organization for a second season, also agreed to a minor league contract. Muecke, 29, went 6-9 with a 5.94 ERA last year for Triple-A Colorado Springs in 25 games, 22 starts.

Miller, 28, was the Rockies eighth-round pick in 2004 out of Louisiana-Monroe. He went 1-0 with a 4.84 ERA last year in 33 games at Triple-A Norfolk with 18 walks, 53 strikeouts and nine homers allowed in 57 2/3 innings. Miller appeared in 158 games for Norfolk in the past four seasons.

The Orioles recalled Miller in September 2008 and that month, in his only stint in the big leagues, he appeared in eight games and 0-1 with a 1.17 ERA.

Miller, who will compete for a relief job with the Sky Sox, has a power arm and a fastball in the mid-90 mph range. But his secondary pitches are below average and he needs to develop a better feel for pitching.

In addition to Miller, the Rockies traded pitcher Jason Burch, whom they acquired from the Cardinals in the August 2004 deal for Larry Walker, for Lopez on Jan. 12, 2007. In 14 starts for the Rockies in 2007, Lopez went 5-4 with a 4.42 ERA. After a July 26 start, Lopez underwent surgery to reconstruct his right elbow and repair a torn right flexor tendon.

Jason Hirsh made two starts in Lopez’s turn in the rotation before suffering a fractured right fibula. After Tim Harrikala started once in that turn, Morales took over that spot in the rotation and helped the Rockies reach the postseason by going 3-2 with a 3.43 ERA in eight starts.

Miller is the third player originally drafted by the Rockies who returned to the organization this winter. Third baseman-second baseman Matt Macri, 28, drafted three picks ahead of Miller in the fifth round in 2004, and outfielder Jeff Salazar, 30, an eighth-round pick in 2002, recently signed minor league deals.

5 Comments »

  • Agbayani | January 16, 2011 | 1:22 am

    Interesting to see these guys coming back, albeit basically as organizational filler this time around.

    If I remember correctly, at one time (back in about 2005-6) Tracy R’s Baseball America organizational report listed Miller as having the best slider in the Rockies’ minors. Don’t know what happened to that pitch. He was truly dominant in his first short season Tri Cities season, but I guess in retrospect that was one of those things where he was a bit older and more polished than most of his competition. I really thought Salazar had big league talent, too. Kind of a Seth Smith with better speed who could play CF, but that kind of fizzled as well. I’ll be pulling for either of them to at least get another shot at making a big league roster. Nice to see the Rockies give them a shot (admittedly a long shot) at that.

  • Eric W. | January 16, 2011 | 7:06 pm

    Are the Rockies at the point, going to add depth? Could the Rockies re-sign Beimel or add a Johnny Damon or an Andruw Jones someone like that?

  • Steve Foster | January 17, 2011 | 8:40 am

    Beimel is still possible, but it would probably happen on roughly the same timeline as last year with him joining the team after spring training. But if someone is willing to give him a two-year deal, I don’t see him coming back to the Rockies. Rockies aren’t pursuing Damon. Jones remains a very remote possibility, but the Yankees have much more interest. Not sure that the Rockies have enough room in their budget to outbid the Yankees for him if it comes down to that. Boras represents Jones and it may have come up in talks to finalize the Gonzalez deal, but the team hasn’t really had serious interest in him.

  • Dave | July 25, 2011 | 11:55 pm

    It’s about time some clubs get quality people. Why did those guys spend years in places where there was no chance to make it? Give them a shot.

  • progmatinee | July 25, 2011 | 11:58 pm

    Why are you posting in a 7 month old thread?