One of Mike Miller’s summer plans was to take advantage of his finance degree from Cal Poly.
But a phone call Tuesday changed everything.
The Boston Red Sox called to tell the Cal Poly senior shortstop that they were going to take him 301st overall in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. For the rest of the day, he was relieved — though he started packing for a life as a professional athlete.
“I was honored to see my name flash on the screen to be a member of the Boston Red Sox organization,” he said. “They called me to say, ‘We’re looking at you in the next few rounds, so keep your eyes open and hopefully we’ll be able to get you.’ I was trying to stay positive the whole time. I was pretty anxious.
“Once my name got called, the weight of the world was lifted off me.”
Miller was one of three former Cuesta College players to be selected in the draft.
Pepperdine standout pitcher Jon Moscot, who played one season for the Cougars, went to the Cincinnati Reds in the fourth round (142nd overall), and Hofstra senior outfielder Danny Poma, who endured his second year at Cuesta with injuries, was chosen by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 10th round (333rd overall).
Moscot’s draft position is one of the highest for a former Cougars player. Kevin Kane was a first-round selection (25th overall) by the Red Sox in 1979 out of Cuesta.
“It’s an exciting for them to take a step closer,” Cuesta head coach Bob Miller said about this year’s former Cuesta draftees. “They come to a program like Cuesta’s to develop and it’s nice to be a part of their development.”
Take Poma, for example. His sophomore season at Cuesta was plagued by injuries, as he hurt his shoulder and broke his hand. He was limited to 18 games and batted .143 — a contrast to his freshman campaign in 2009, when he was named an honorable mention all-Western State Conference North selection after hitting .318 with eight doubles, four triples, four home runs, 25 RBI and 35 runs.
Poma was also one of 30 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the top college player, before the list was narrowed to three finalists Tuesday.
“One of the best athletes at Cuesta since I’ve been the head coach,” said Miller, who just wrapped up his 10th season. “He can run, throw and hit with some power. Just very athletic.”
He turned that athleticism into a record-breaking campaign at Hofstra last season. He batted .430 with a school-record 102 hits, 32 doubles and 78 runs. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Monterey High graduate added seven home runs, 48 RBI and 29 stolen bases.
“It is a dream come true,” Poma said in a news release about being drafted. “I have worked my whole life for this moment and to be drafted in the first 10 rounds is just an amazing feeling. I can’t wait to get started on this next chapter of my career.”
Moscot also left an impression at Cuesta, where he helped carry the Cougars to the super regionals. In 2010, he posted a 6-2 record with a 2.01 ERA.
The 6-4, 210-pounder from Pacific Palisades then moved on to Pepperdine and finished his junior season with a 7-5 record. He had a 2.90 ERA and struck out 95 batters in 115 innings — numbers that earned him all-West Coast Conference team honors and carried the Waves into the NCAA Tournament, where they were eliminated by Stanford on Sunday.
For Miller, he’ll put his Cal Poly finances degree on hold for now. He ended his college career by earning first-team all-Big West Conference honors after batting .354 with 87 hits and 56 runs. He also had the Mustangs’ longest hitting streak of the season at 14 games.
“I was banking on getting drafted or getting a chance to play,” said Miller, who graduated from De La Salle High (Concord) in 2007 before playing at Cuesta. “If not, I probably would’ve gone up north and started looking for a job in a suit and tie. Thank God I don’t have to.”
The 5-8, 170-pounder isn’t always the biggest player on the field, but both the Cal Poly and Cuesta coaches said that never stopped Miller from being productive.
Cal Poly coach Larry Lee said it’s fitting that Miller was picked by a Red Sox team that has 5-9, 180-pound Dustin Pedroia — the 2008 American League MVP — as its second baseman.
“(The Red Sox) saw somebody that plays hard and is always in the right place and right time and did every right offensively and defensively,” said Lee, who had junior outfielder Mitch Haniger go to the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round Monday. “It helped they have someone like Dustin Pedroia, who’s short on stature but he goes out and plays hard. Not to compare (Miller) to Dustin Pedroia, but they’re not afraid to go after someone (like Miller). They look past that and see the intangibles that make Mike a good ball player.”