Andrew Miller wins Clemens award
HOUSTON -- A southpaw topped a trio of right-handers Wednesday night for the Roger Clemens Award.
University of North Carolina left-hander Andrew Miller was the recipient of the third annual award at the Marriott Westchase of Houston. Miller won the award over right-handers Eddie Degerman of Rice, Tim Lincecum of the University of Washington and Brad Lincoln of the University of Houston.
"I never really thought it would happen," Miller said. "Those other guys had such great years. It's just such a huge honor to be here. It was in the back of my mind. To win an award with Roger Clemens' name on it is amazing."
For Miller, this last month has been a whirlwind. First of all, North Carolina played in the College World Series finals. Then, the Detroit Tigers selected Miller No. 6 overall in this season's First-Year Player Draft.
"It's a huge honor to even make the finals," said Miller, who finished his junior season with a 13-2 record, a 2.11 ERA and 119 strikeouts. "I'm just happy to be here."
While the award is special, a simple 10-minute conversation with The Rocket about the art of pitching might have been even more memorable for Miller.
"He talked to all of us and I think everybody was in such awe," Miller said. "It was a conversation that I don't think any of us will forget. He talked to us about pitching, which is what we all love to do. That is so special to have Roger Clemens talk to us about pitching."
Like Clemens, Miller is a power pitcher. So does his talent coupled with this award mean he can live up to The Rocket?
"I don't think anybody can expect anything like that," Miller said. "Right now, I just hope I make it to the Major Leagues. He's probably the greatest pitcher of all-time."
Another pitcher Miller has been compared to is Yankees left-hander Randy Johnson. At 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, Miller's got the build of the Big Unit, if not the height.
Still, Miller isn't ready to step in Johnson's shoes just yet.
"I think that's another lofty comparison," Miller said. "I enjoy those kind of things, but I can't put too much into that. Those guys are out of my league."
At UNC, Miller set career marks for strikeouts in just three seasons, and he led the Tar Heels to the College World Series this season for the first time since 1989.
Miller showcased his talent at the World Series in Omaha, where he picked up a save to put North Carolina into the championship series against Oregon State, which won the national championship.
But a second-place finish can't taint Miller's season. He was named Athletic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year with 13 wins in 16 starts. Miller was just as good against ranked teams, winning five of six decisions with a 1.27 ERA.
Miller was able to win that many games because he never really gave up the big hit. He allowed just seven extra base hits, including one home run, in 110 innings during the regular season.
Miller wasn't the only candidate with a spectacular season. Degerman led Rice to a Conference USA title, Linecum led the nation with 199 strikeouts and Lincoln was the Pitcher of the Year in his conference.
"You're going to see a lot of them because they wouldn't be here if they weren't deserving," Clemens said.
Angels right-hander Jered Weaver is proof of that. Weaver was the recipient of the Clemens Award in 2004, and he's already in the Majors. Right-hander Luke Hochevar, last year's winner, was selected No. 1 overall this season by the Royals in the draft.
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