August Fagerstrom

Double-A, for many players, is a transition level. For most, it’s young players getting their first taste of the new level after spending a season or two in High Class-A ball.

For some, it’s where they work to regain their strength after an injury halted their road to the big leagues. And for others, it’s learning a new position in an attempt to fast-track their path to the majors.

The RubberDucks are no exception, with players that fit all of these roles.

For the “injured players on a comeback attempt” category, look no further than 28-year-old right-hander Adam Miller.

Miller was an Indians’ first-round draft pick in 2003 who fell victim to a plethora of injuries that have prevented him from ever reaching the big leagues.

So far this season, Miller is pitching as well as he has since 2008 and hopes to put his injury history behind him.

Miller’s fastball has been reaching 96 miles per hour on the radar gun at Canal Park, showing flashes of what made him such a coveted prospect many years ago, but RubberDucks manager Dave Wallace admits that will only take him so far in his comeback attempt.

“He definitely feels better from what I can see and he’s more confident in his fastball,” Wallace said. “He’s thrown some very good sliders, but that’s been a little more erratic than the fastball. I think that’s going to be his challenge going forward is to not just rely solely on his fastball, which is basically what he’s done to a lot of success since he’s been here.

“And that’s a great sign. But he’s going to eventually have to start throwing that slider a little more and get that up to par and then we’ll go from there. If that slider comes around with consistency, that’s all he’ll need.”

Miller has made some changes, albeit minor, to his mechanics in an attempt to prevent further injuries. Miller used to pitch with what coaches call “inverted W” arm action, in which the pitcher’s two arms form an “M” — or inverted W — shortly before they deliver the ball to the plate. This causes stress on the shoulder and can lead to injury — most famously in the case of Chicago Cubs phenom Mark Prior.

“We’re working on his back leg,” Wallace said. “He used to get very flat and it would result in that inverted W, so I think they wanted to get him to ride off his back leg a little longer and get a little more tilt. It’s not a major adjustment from what he was, but we like what we see.”

In terms of workload, the Ducks have been throwing Miller just two innings at time out of the bullpen, but Wallace acknowledges that he is no different from any other pitcher in terms of workload or pitch counts.

Moving forward, aside from commanding his slider a little better, Wallace just wants to see more of the same as Miller stays healthy and continues to pitch well. If he does those things, Wallace and the Indians’ organization believe Miller will eventually realize his dream of becoming a big-league player despite the many roadblocks he has had to overcome.

“I don’t think there’s any one goal he’s necessarily looking to accomplish here. It’s more of just staying consistent with what he’s doing — and what he’s doing is working. He continues to get better and sharper each time he goes out. So he just needs to continue his off-the-field maintenance stuff and see where it takes him.”

Read the RubberDucks blog at https://ohio.com/blogs/rubberducks. Follow August on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AugustF_ABJ.