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Indians acquire all-star and Gainesville native Andrew Miller

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The Cleveland Indians made a cannonball splash in Saturday’s trade market by acquiring all-star reliever Andrew Miller from the Yankees. The Gainesville, Fla. native and his 97 mph fastball now makes the Indians the clear favorite to capture the American League’s Central Division title.

Less than a week after shipping Aroldis Chapman and his 100 mph heater to the Cubs, New York officially gave up on the 2016 season. Cleveland, on the other hand, is betting their future with the hope of winning today.

In addition to Miller, the Milwaukee Brewers agreed to trade all-star catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the Tribe for draft picks. Lucroy blocked the trade Sunday morning.

Had the trade gone through, Cleveland would have given up six prospects to acquire Miller and Lucroy. This includes three of their top six, including number one, along with number 12, 22 and 30.

Miller has been a dominant pitcher in the recent past. During his one and one-half years with New York, he has struck out 177 batters in 107 innings. This means 60 percent of those facing him have failed to put the ball in play.

Last year he had 36 saves with a 2.04 earned run average while fanning 100 hitters in 61.2 innings. After Chapman left for the Cubs, Miller returned to his closer role for the Yankees. While his former team tries to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Rays on Sunday, Miller will be on his way to Cleveland.

After starring at Gainesville’s Buchholz High School, he went on to the University of North Carolina. In 2006, he was the sixth player taken in that year’s draft by the Detroit Tigers.

Early in his career he was a starter for Detroit and the Miami (then-Florida) Marlins. It was the Boston Red Sox who switched him to the bullpen in 2012.

He struck out, on average, more than one batter per inning each year, but did not earn the chance to be a closer until the Yankees turned him loose on the American League in 2015.

In Cleveland, Miller will be no closer to home than he was in New York, but he and wife Katie Roark get back there for Gator football or basketball games whenever possible.

“I obviously miss most of the football season due to baseball but still get a chance to usually make a game or two,” he told the Gainesville Sun. Roark’s parents still live in Gainesville and have had basketball season tickets behind the Florida bench.

The way the Indians are playing this year, Miller may have a difficult time getting to football game this year as well. October baseball likely means no September or October football.

 

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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