JANERO MILLER, pitching.
JANERO MILLER with his mother, Crystal Swain.
#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#ALTHOUGH he was considered a late bloomer at the age of nine, Janero Miller will achieve one of his goals of becoming a professional baseball player at the age of 17.
#In two years, he hopes that he will become the latest Bahamian to play in the Major League of Baseball.
#Miller will take that first step to his pro career tonight when he signs his contract with the Miami Marlins as a pitcher/outfielder at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium.
#His signing comes on the heels of Sebastian Walcott, who inked his name on a deal with the Texas Rangers organisation on Sunday at Sapodilla Restuarant.
#They join several other Bahamians who are involved in the 2023 Signing Class out of the International Elite Sports Academy, headed by Geron Sands and Albert Cartwright.
#For Miller, who started playing the sport at Freedom Farm, said it was rough at the beginning, but he’s quite pleased with his progress over the years.
#The former Albury Sayle student went on to excel as the top pitcher and most valuable player for the HO Nash Lions in the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association’s baseball league.
#“I have a love for baseball now, but when I got started, I really didn’t want to play it,” said Miller, who is the only member of his four siblings that play any sport. “But after I played a few games and I hit a home run I felt like this was the sport for me and so I continued with it. I fell in love with it.”
#As he prepares for his transgression into the pro ranks, he said:
#“I am very proud of myself because hard work always pays off,” Miller said. “I was so determined to make it to this point and I’m so glad to know that this is where God has brought me. I can now get the opportunity to continue to play this sport at the highest level.”
#During his playing days at Freedom Farm and the support of his mother, Crystal Swain and others, Miller said he got a lot of encouragement from scouts, who whispered in his ear that he had the ability to play the game and that was when he started to take it seriously.
#“They are expecting me to come in and play the outfield more than pitch,” said Miller, who is expected to go to Miami, Florida in a few days to get through the league’s formalities before he heads off to the Dominican Republic for their six-month training camp.
#“They don’t want me to get too much stress on my arm pitching, so they want me to play the outfield and even some first base. I really like pitching, but the outfield is a lot of fun as well. Hitting is fun as well. Baseball, on the whole, is a lot of fun.”
#Having watched the signing of several players from the Bahamas, Miller said he got more inspired to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball.
#“I realised that nothing could stop me from reaching my end goal, but me,” he said.
#“A lot of the players who signed before me, they told me that I have the talent to do it as well, so that pushed me to work hard and not to give up, but to trust the process.”
#Through the process, Miller said he’s confident that at the age of 19, he will be playing in the Major League. “I just have to continue to play hard, stay focused and trust my coaches and being open to listening to my coaches,” he said. “I think those are the ingredients that will help me to get through it.”
#Miller said he owes a great debt of gratitude to so many persons, including David Fowler, who introduced him to baseball, Greg Burrows Sr and Jr for his development at Freedom Farm and the coaches there and the I-Elite programme, led by Sands and Cartwright, for playing such a big role in his life and getting him to the point where he is right now.
#To the players coming behind, Miller had this simple message to share with them.
#“Always work hard. Trust your coaches, trust the process because there are other ways to get to the big league, not just by signing,” he pointed out. “You can do it through high school or college, so just trust the process and believe in your coaches. Never give up on your dreams.
#“If you want to go to the big leagues, you have to go for it.”
#Lyrone Burrows, who was first introduced to Miller at age nine by his mother and has turned out to be a father-figure, said he was there to watch his progress over the years and assisted him in every way possible.
#“To start playing baseball at nine, it’s a late start, but we watched him bat and he would always step away from the plate to avoid being hit,” said Burrows, a local softball player and executive.
#“But when you look at his family and their athletic capabilities, he has an older aunt, Samantha Gilbert, who played in college and his mom played volleyball locally, while he was a small skinny kid, we always knew what he was projected to become.”
#Now at 6-feet, 2 inches, Burrows said Miller has excelled to the level where he could be considered a diamond in the rough and one whom he feels will excel to the Majors, maybe in his opinion, not at 19, but at least 20 or 21.
#“I’m sticking with 19,” Miller quipped. “That is my goal to make it. I’m looking forward to it once I sign my contract and I head off to start my journey.”