Between his freshman and sophomore years at Casa Grande High School, A.J. (Andrew James) Miller made a verbal commitment to play baseball for the University of Oregon once he graduated from high school.
Two weeks ago, as a senior, he proved a man of his word, signing an official Letter of Intent to play for the Ducks next year.
Oregon was almost an instant choice for the first baseman from the moment he met the coaches at the end of his freshman season. A visit to the campus clinched his plans, and he has held fast to his resolve to become a Duck.
“I really liked the coaches and felt like I wanted to play for them,” Miller said. “I felt like they cared for me and wanted me.”
Miller’s signing the Letter of Intent was a formality. “Once I made the verbal commitment, in my mind I was already a Duck,” he said.
It also helped that Oregon has a national reputation as a business school, and Miller plans to major in business.
A first baseman for Casa Grande, Miller said Oregon coaches are looking at him to play the outfield as well.
Oregon had a 30-25 season last year, and was 12-18 in Pac-12 play. Miller says they are expecting to be better in upcoming seasons.
“They have a great program and a great coaching staff,” he said. “They have a great incoming class of young players.”
Miller couldn’t have chosen a better geographical location to continue his education considering his enjoyment of the outdoors, particularly hunting and fishing.
Miller was a major part of a Casa Grande team that went 24-5 last season, won the North Bay League championship, and played in the North Coast Section championship game.
It all added up to nearly 30 high school games in two months, but it was only a part of a baseball routine he has followed over the past three seasons that, including summer ball, camps, all-star teams and showcase tournaments, has seen him play continuously from February through August.
Last year, Miller was a key part of what he called “an awesome” Casa Grande baseball team. He played in 27 of his team’s 29 games, batting .370 with 30 hits, 10 for extra bases (seven doubles and three homers). He drove in 32 runs and scored 22. He had a .464 on-base percentage and a 1.032 OPS.
He is looking forward to enjoying similar success as a senior this spring.
“It will be different this year without coach Maytorena, but there are a lot of good candidates for the job. We will be all right,” he said.
Although he seldom even mentions his physical problem, Miller has overcome Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes to excel on the diamond and in the classroom. The disease almost cost him his life before it was diagnosed in January of 2013.
The disease is now under control and Miller is more than ready to move on from being a proud Gaucho to being a proud Duck.