Three Cal Poly players were selected in this year’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in early June, while former left-handed pitcher Kyle Anderson signed as an undrafted free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Former shortstop Mike Miller was selected in the ninth round by the Boston Red Sox and Nick Grim was nabbed in the 17th round by the Baltimore Orioles. Former center fielder Mitch Haniger was also drafted, as he became the second highest pick in program history when he was taken 38th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first compensatory round.
All four players recently signed contracts with their respective organizations to play professional baseball.
Miller, the 301st overall selection, led Cal Poly with a .354 batting average and scored a Big West-leading 56 runs to go along with 87 hits in 2012.
He owned the Mustang’s longest hitting streak of the season at 14 games en route to earning first-team All-Big West Conference honors. Miller started all 56 games and had 27 multiple-hit contests, including a 5-for-5 showing against Pacific on April 28.
“He’s very deserving (of the draft pick),” Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee said. “He had a great year and it’s a great opportunity for him and the Red Sox organization.”
After spending a year at Cuesta College, Miller transferred to Cal Poly as a sophomore in 2010. The 5-foot-8 shorststop started his academic career at Cal Poly in 2009, but quickly realized he missed playing baseball at a competitive level. Having not been scouted for Division I baseball out of high school, Miller was granted an opportunity to play for the Cougars at the junior college level.
Following a standout year at Cuesta where he earned first-team All-Western State Conference North Division praise, Lee offered Miller a scholarship to play at Cal Poly. Per NCAA regulations, he became dual enrolled in the fall of 2010 to finish with his degree from the junior college before starting what would be a successful NCAA career.
Miller’s selection pushed the number of players to be drafted in the first 10 rounds in Lee’s 10-year tenure to 17.
He has been designated for assignment for the short-season Class A affiliate of the Red Sox, the Lowell Spinners.
The 17th-rounder Grim shone as the set-up reliever last season compiling a 3-2 record with a 4.74 ERA in 24.2 innings pitched. He recorded 19 strikeouts and pitched more than one inning in relief on three separate occasions.
“Grim is a power arm,” Anderson said. “That’s what a lot of people look for with that heavy fastball in the low-to-mid 90’s.”
Grim, a junior transfer from Monterey Peninsula Community College, was drafted for the second time in as many years after being selected by the Florida Marlins in 2011. He turned down that offer to complete his junior year at Cal Poly.
He currently plays for the Orioles rookie affiliate the GCL Orioles of the Gulf Coast League.
Grim’s fellow hurler Anderson had a breakout season with the Mustangs in 2012. He owned a career-best 10-1 record with an ERA of 3.40 as the Cal Poly Saturday night starter. His senior campaign marked the only winning season of his Cal Poly career, as the Aptos High School graduate took advantage of being tabbed a weekend starter in 2012.
Anderson, a 2002 Little League World Series participant, signed with the Blue Jays immediately following the Draft on June 6th. He pitched two complete games for the Mustangs in 92 2/3 innings last season and went 16-12 in his four year collegiate career.
“Kyle was just one of those guys where we played well when he pitched,” pitching coach Jason Kelly said in a phone interview last month. “As a group we were ready to play when he set the tone with his energy.”
His success can be attributed to the evolution of a four-pitch set that was developed in recent years, said Kelly. This past season Anderson improved on his curveball as a fourth pitch to augment his fastball, slider and changeup — a combination that Kelly believes can garner him post-collegiate success.
“We totally re-tooled him,” Kelly said. “He has a completely different arsenal from when he was in high school, and he’s bigger and stronger.”
Anderson currently plays in the Blue Jays’ farm system for the rookie affiliate Gulf Coast Blue Jays. In his lone start of the season Anderson allowed one run on four hits in three innings pitched.