By Joey Crandall
Nevada Appeal News Service
Douglas High graduate Bryan Miller signed a minor-league baseball contract with the Washington Nationals Tuesday morning.
Miller, who just wrapped up his career at Troy University where he started in the outfield for the last two years, will play out the rest of the summer with the Gulf Coast Nationals rookie-league team in Florida.
"It's a good feeling, to get back to work and to have a shot at professional baseball," Miller said. "I'm pretty excited. I was just hoping for a shot and I'm glad to have one."
It's a far cry from a month ago when Miller, fresh off being named a first-team NCAA All-American after leading the nation in doubles and base hits, went undrafted during the Major League Baseball amateur draft.
"That was confusing for me," he said. "There were guys getting drafted that I'd never heard of and teams passing on their final picks. I was hoping with the All-American mention that someone would take a chance on me. It ended up working out though, so it's OK."
After the draft, Miller began training at Mesa College in Arizona where he spent his first two seasons of college ball. In the meantime time, a pair of his former coaches, Mesa's Tony Cirelli and former Douglas coach Hal Wheeler, went to bat for him.
Wheeler got in contact with the San Francisco Giants, who asked Miller to spend the summer playing independent ball in Alaska.
"They said they were going to sign me after the season," Miller said. "Then coach Cirelli got a hold of the Nationals and they came to Arizona to give me a workout."
After some mild complications (a monsoon flooded the field at Mesa the night before Miller's initially-scheduled workout), Miller showed his stuff and was offered a contract.
He flew out to Florida Saturday morning and spent the next several days taking physicals and filling out paper work.
On Tuesday, he finally got to take a turn in the batting cage.
"It felt good, it went pretty good," he said. "I've been hearing from people on the phone and with text messages all day. It's pretty cool."
Miller said he was thankful for his former coaches' help.
"They are the ones that did this for me," he said. "Coach Cirelli and coach Wheeler really got the ball rolling. They pretty much did it all. Now it is in my hands to keep my spot here."
Miller is signed through the end of Spring Training 2009.
"After that, they'll make a determination on what they want to do with me," he said.
Miller graduated from Douglas in 2003. His family now lives in Arizona.