July 19, 2013 by Wayne McBrayer with contributions & photos by Rebecca Herman
Relief pitchers are guys who get used to playing under pressure. At any moment, the manager can come out of the dugout and signal the bullpen to send a guy in. Their job any night can be anything from replacing a hurt pitcher to coming in with the bases loaded and no one out. It’s a job for those who don’t have a weak stomach and Miles Mikolas fits the bill. He is one who is not easily intimidated. His hobby is fishing and he has caught sharks that are “about 7 feet long” so hitters aren’t going to easily scare him.
His earliest memory of baseball was “going to a Mets game when I was a kid and thinking that Bobby Bonilla was the biggest person I had ever seen, when I lived in New York, so he was a big guy….especially to a 5 year old kid. He looked like a giant out there.” Miles started playing baseball in his backyard using a “whiffle ball and a plastic Playskool bat.” He moved out of the backyard to t-ball at the age of 6 or 7 and continued to play Little League baseball.
Living in Jupiter, Florida, which was the location of the Florida Marlins spring training complex, he grew up a Florida Marlins fan and cheered them on. “Growing up in South Florida I was a huge Josh Beckett fan. I like durable power guys.” Roger Clemens was another pitcher he admired for his durability and toughness.
He attended Jupiter High School and moved on to attend college at Nova Southeastern University. His last season pitching with the Sharks he had a 7-2 record with a team leading 2.06 ERA. He pitched 83 innings, walking only 8 and striking out 80. He also had 4 complete games with 2 of them being shutouts. He became the highest drafted player in the history of the school when the San Diego Padres drafted him in 2009 in the 7th round with the 204th pick.
The Padres sent him to A- Eugene where he struggled with a 1-8 record with a 5.94 ERA. The Padres decided to send him to A Fort Wayne for 2010 where the Padres converted him to the bullpen. There was a huge improvement in his starts and he showed signs of becoming a great closer. He finished 2010 with a 6-3 record, 13 saves and a 2.20 ERA striking out 78 hitters in 81 2/3 innings. 2011 saw Miles make the big jump from A+ Lake Elsinore where his ERA dropped to 1.13 in 39 2/3 innings to AA San Antonio where his ERA was 1.67 over 32.1 innings. After the season, Miles was sent to Arizona Fall League where he became famous for eating a lizard in the bullpen. “We were joking around in the bullpen and one thing led to another and there was some money on the line so … you know. I’m a little bit fearless. Even eating a lizard won’t turn me away. Hopefully, I can open their eyes a little bit more.” Take a look at this video HERE!
In 2012, Miles returned to AA San Antonio where he was 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA using his 90+MPH fastball and his curve ball aka “The Hammer” to keep hitters off balance. He was slowly becoming one the Padres top pitching prospects. The proudest moment of Miles career came “when I got called up last year, you know that was a big thing for me working real hard from t-ball in the backyard until kind of reaching that first goal obviously the next goal is to stay up there and be successful.” The first batter Miles faced was Giancarlo Stanton, who welcomed Miles to the majors with a home run, but he settled down and struck out John Buck and Jose Reyes. Miles finished the season splitting time between AAA Tucson and the San Diego Padres, putting up good numbers with both teams.
This season, Miles was sent to AAA Tucson where he became their closer notching 20 saves. He has been called up twice by the San Diego Padres this year. On July 11, he had the opportunity to pitch against the San Francisco Giants – replacing Luke Gregerson in the Top of the 9th: Hunter Pence flies out; Brandon Belt pops out; and Andres Torres lines out. The Padres lost 4-2 but Miles kept us in the game and gave us a good shot at coming back … just wasn’t meant to be on that night. But it does look like he can eat up hitters like he ate that lizard….without the Mountain Dew! For the complete game play-by-play, click HERE.
We enjoyed meeting Miles in Tucson and look forward to seeing more of him at Petco Park this season!
In the meanwhile, be sure to connect with Miles ….
Interview & Story by Wayne McBrayer, TheCasualFan
Editing & Photography by Rebecca Herman, TheBaseballPHD