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Dodgers make Baylor pitcher Aaron Miller their first selection in draft

DODGERS FYI

Miller, who just finished his junior season, is also a power-hitting outfielder, but the Dodgers say they've drafted him as a pitcher.

June 10, 2009|Jim Peltz

The Dodgers' first choice in the amateur player draft Tuesday was left-handed pitcher Aaron Miller, 21, who just completed his junior year at Baylor.

"I couldn't be more ecstatic," Miller said. "I was kind of crossing my fingers. I came home from L.A. yesterday and was really hoping that I would get picked up."

At 6 feet 3 and 200 pounds, Miller also was a power-hitting outfielder at Baylor. But the Dodgers drafted him as a pitcher, said Logan White, the team's assistant general manager for scouting.

"He's an athlete and I've got a propensity to taking guys that are athletes," White said, adding that he likened Miller to Dodgers first baseman James Loney "in reverse."

"Loney was a prospect as a pitcher," White said. "Aaron Miller is certainly a big league prospect as a hitter and a player. He hasn't been able to focus on pitching all the time, though, and in our professional judgment we think he's certainly got the best future to be a left-handed pitcher."

White said that once Miller starts pitching full time, "our belief is he's going to shoot to the top of the charts."

Miller, who grew up admiring such pitching stars as Nolan Ryan and Andy Pettitte, said he was "excited about the prospect of pitching" for a "great baseball club."

Miller said he initially was drafted from high school by the Colorado Rockies in 2006 but "wanted the college experience" before turning professional.

Although there are 30 big league teams, the Dodgers' first pick was 36th overall.

The Dodgers did not have a first-round selection because of the signing of free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson from the Arizona Diamondbacks. But the Dodgers were able to pick Miller in the so-called sandwich round, between the first and second rounds, as a compensation for losing free-agent pitcher Derek Lowe to the Atlanta Braves.

Short hops

Entering Tuesday's game, the Dodgers had played 19 one-run games, nearly one-third of their season so far. In that span, the team was 14-5 in one-run games and 11-1 at Dodger Stadium. . . . Pitcher Claudio Vargas, recovering from elbow problems, threw two innings Monday night at Class-A Inland Empire at Lake Elsinore, giving up two runs and two hits.

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james.peltz@latimes.com

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