Justin Miller wanted no part of the anxiety that young prospects face during the Major League Baseball amateur draft.
Brian Oliver, a coach for summer travel team DIB, offered to ease Miller’s nerves by allowing him to do what comes more naturally – pitch Saturday in a tournament at Tenaya Middle School. Miller could take his mind off the third and final day of this year’s selection process.
The 6-foot-4, 183-pound right-hander from Central High struck out nine and allowed just one hit through four innings. And so there he was, on the mound in the fifth, when Philadelphia Phillies area scout Shane Bowers sent a text to the DIB coaches.
The Phillies had selected Miller with the first pick of the 12th round, No. 347 overall.
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Surreal feeling that I finally made it. Once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Central High right-hander Justin Miller on being drafted by the Philadelphia Philles in the 12th round
“Surreal feeling that I finally made it,” Miller said. “Once-in-a-lifetime moment.”
Oliver knew a little about what Miller would have had to endure if he had stayed home, glued to a computer screen or awaiting a call.
“Sitting there watching name after name and hoping it comes,” said Oliver, who starred at Central, Fresno City, Indiana State and Fresno Pacific before playing in the professional independent leagues. “I’ve been through that, and other partners have been through that, and it’s just stressful and hard on you.
“Why not go out there and play so you don’t have to think about it? As soon as we got the text that he had got picked, we just stopped the game and took him out.”
Miller was “a little surprised” to be taken as soon as he was, with Rounds 11 through 40 on Saturday. He said he’ll think it over for a couple of days, whether to sign with the Phillies or begin a collegiate career at Fresno City.
“I was in a middle of a game, pitching a great game,” Miller said. “Then I get the call. Definitely a dream come true. I’ve worked my butt off to get where I’m at right now … just to get my name called in the draft.”
10Players with Fresno-area ties chosen during the three-day 2016 major-league draft, the highest of whom was Fresno State right-hander Jimmy Lambert in the fifth round to the Chicago White Sox
Alan Crowley, meanwhile, knew he was going to get picked by the Braves at some point. The Reedley College catcher from Clovis High was told Day 2 or maybe Day 3 of the draft.
“ ‘Just be ready to have your phone on,’ ” Crowley was told by a scout.
His call finally came Saturday, too – in the 26th round (769th overall). Crowley was the fourth of seven players with Fresno-area ties to be selected on Day 3. Three others were chosen Friday.
“Mom, grandpa and my brother were next to me,” said Crowley, who batted .363 (third in the Central Valley Conference) with five home runs (tied for second) this season. “I’m excited just get to an organization … any of them I would’ve been excited to go to. I’m glad it’s the Braves.”
Crowley had planned to play next season for Fresno State but will consider turning pro.
“I’m still kind of weighing my options at the moment,” he said. “Just going to enjoy the moment. I’m excited to do this for coach (Steve) Pearse and Reedley. I wasn’t really thinking about it while the season was going on. Just whatever happens, happens.”
Others taken in the draft:
▪ Fresno State junior right-hander Jimmy Lambert, was selected in the fifth round (No. 146 overall) by the Chicago White Sox.
▪ Former Bullard star Blake Quinn, a right-handed pitcher at Cal State Fullerton, went in the ninth round (No. 257) to Philadelphia.
▪ Fresno State senior left-hander Dylan Lee (Dinuba/College of the Sequoias) went in the 10th round (No. 293) to Miami.
▪ Ex-College of the Sequoias pitcher Tyler Beardsley (Tehachapi/Sacramento State) was drafted by Minnesota in the 16th round (No. 483).
▪ Sonoma State pitcher Ryan Luna (Corcoran/Fresno City) went in the 28th round (No. 830) to Colorado.
▪ Bellevue right-hander Leland Tilley (Exeter/COS) was drafted by St. Louis in the 32nd round (No. 976).
▪ Fresno Pacific outfielder Preston Scott (Hanford/Fresno City) was taken by Texas in the 34th round (No. 1,029).
▪ Clovis North center fielder Matt Fraizer went in the 38th round (No. 1,132) to Oakland.
Also, Fresno State recruit Davis Moore, who prepped at Los Osos High, was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the 37th round.
Anthony DeFrancesco, the son of Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco, was drafted in the 37th round by Houston. Anthony starred at third base for Red Mountain High in Mesa, Ariz.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect correct spelling of the last name of Clovis North’s Matt Fraizer.