When it comes to becoming a college athlete, there is no cookie-cutter method. No directions, map, or person to tell you exactly how it’s done. Perhaps the only constant between all these athletes is the necessary drive to be great and be dedicated to constant self-improvement on the field at all times. And no one would know this better than 2019 Coronado High school graduate and current Point Loma Nazarene University pitcher Dylan Miller.
Like many who have walked the halls of Coronado High School, Miller is a part of a military family. Living in other states, most notably Florida, before arriving in Coronado in 2017, Miller attributes some of his growth as a baseball player to moving around the country.
“I think moving around actually helped me grow as a player. It allowed me to be around new and changing competition, which allowed me to assess how well I matched up,” said Miller. “Being around so many different coaches and players, and I think that allowed me to have a broader view of the game. It showed me how important training is, and because of that, I think I started training much earlier than some people do.”
When Miller arrived at Coronado in 2017, he noted how easy it was for him to bond with his teammates and coaches here in Coronado .“I grew really close with the guys on the team really quickly. They welcomed me right away and made the transition here easy. Plus, Coach Morgan (Cummins) and Coach (Chris) Blanton were really important in developing me into a better player each year. They did a great job of always communicating with me. I always remember those first practices when I showed up and how crisp and well run they were. It showed how serious they were.”
Miller described himself as a super-utility player during his time as an islander, earning starts at third, second, right, catcher and on the mound as a pitcher. “I really was just looking to help the team wherever I could,” said Miller. “Where ever the coaches needed me to go, I would. I started at third my sophomore year and pitched, then moved to second my junior year. And by my last season, I had moved to right (fielder)and was starting on the mound more often.”
It wasn’t until Miller’s senior year that he started hearing from colleges. While it was certainly intriguing to take that larger Division I and Division II offers, Dylan decided to take a less traditional route and elected to play for the Southwestern Community College. “I think the decision to go to Southwestern was the best thing I could have done. The time there allowed me more time to develop into a more well-rounded player and do things like add weight and get stronger in general. I had to put in a lot of work, and it was defiantly the biggest jump I’ve made in my baseball career thus far.”
However, when Dylan first arrived at Southwestern, he still wasn’t really sure what position he was going to hone in on. He continued to practice as both a right fielder and throw bullpens, knowing that his versatility and athleticism were his best assets.
But just days before Southwestern’s season opener, Miller got the news that would help answer that question. “Just a few days before our home opener, it turned out one of the three planned starting pitchers wouldn’t be available. So the coaches told me I was the next man up. I knew it was a huge opportunity.”
It was not one that Miller would waste. In his first start, Miller would go six strong, surrendering only three runs and in the process earned himself a permanent spot in the rotation. “From that point on, I knew I had to dedicate my time to pitching,” said Miller
Miller would continue to work on his craft, most notably by adding velocity to his fastball. According to Miller, he has added 5 to 6 mph in the year since he left Coronado. “ I really wanted to add velocity. I worked extremely hard with my pitching coach Brandon James all offseason and heading into the season. He really helped me transition from a utility pitcher to a full-time pitcher. We did a lot of long toss, and he helped me refine my motion and use more of my body to add velo. It was huge.”
It’s quite obvious that the constant work Miller put in paid off in a big way. In 40 innings pitched for Southwestern, Miller posted a 3.05 ERA, holding opposing hitters to a .207 batting average and posting a 7.23 K per 9. Though the season was cut in half due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Miller’s numbers were more than enough for Point Loma Nazarene to offer him a scholarship to pitch for them in 2021.
Miller’s first appearance as a Sea Lion will have to wait for now. But it’s clear his focus hasn’t wavered, and as Miller tells me, he still thinks his best baseball is still to come. “I feel like I’m still getting better and that I can take this beyond college. I know it’s gonna take a lot of work, but that’s what I’m here for.”1 of 3