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Bisons' Miller unfazed by expectations Indians' top prospect wears label well

It can be a dangerous thing when tag lines are attached to your name -- like the notation that you are the Cleveland Indians' No. 1 pitching prospect.

There can be additional pressure to perform, or expectations that don't necessarily mesh with reality.

But it all seems to be just part of the baseball process for Buffalo Bisons starter, and top Indians prospect, Adam Miller.

"Is there any pressure? Nah, I don't think so," Miller said Wednesday when his scheduled start against the Syracuse Chiefs at Dunn Tire Park was postponed due to rain. "I don't put any pressure on myself as far as it goes. . . . It's actually a good thing. You don't want to be just another guy, I guess. But as far as being the No. 1 prospect, it's a great honor but I don't read too much into it."

He also probably doesn't want to read too much into his record on the mound this early in the season, but his presence seems to be good news for the Herd.

Miller, who will get the start on Friday at Pawtucket after the Bisons enjoy a scheduled off day today, is 2-0 with a 4.00 ERA while the team has won all three games that he started.

His last outing was April 20 against Toledo when he got a no-decision, pitching five innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. The Herd went on to win that game, 6-5.

"My last game, the fastball was a little inconsistent but my slider came back so I was definitely excited about that," Miller said. "It had kind of been I guess average -- not really where I wanted it to be. But last game I got a good feel for it so hopefully I can keep that going and get the fastball back to where it was as far as command-wise."

Miller, a 22-year-old right-hander, had a breakout season with Double-A Akron in 2006, going 15-6 with a 2.75 ERA to earn Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honors. He was selected by the Indians in the first round of the 2003 draft.

Bisons manager Torey Lovullo says that Miller is a pitcher with not only sound physical ability but an improving mental game as well.

"I see a guy that has great mound presence. I see a guy that's growing and learning with each outing," Lovullo said. "I see a guy that studies the opposition and incorporates a game plan. I see a guy that's fearless and competitive. Throw that on top of a mid-90s fastball with good secondary stuff and you're talking about a pretty special character."

***

Rain, rain, go away. And take the snow and wind with you.

It's been a difficult start to the season for the Bisons, who have lost five home games due to inclement weather, with a sixth suspended in the bottom of the first.

Wednesday's game, lost to the rain, has not been rescheduled yet, but it probably it will be made up when the Chiefs return to Buffalo, July 20-23.

In all the Bisons have completed only seven of their first 13 games at Dunn Tire Park.

While baseball, April and Buffalo don't exactly combine well, this is a bad start by any measure.

"It's never been this inconsistent in my years of playing here or my time here as manager," Lovullo said. "I think there's a certain degree of frustration that we're all experiencing. We want to get out there and play and get this thing rolling and get on a nice run. You feel like there's no continuity. There's no ease to going out there and expecting to play nine full innings. You feel like you're going to be interrupted all the time."

***

The Bisons will open an eight-game road trip with a 7:05 p.m. game at Pawtucket on Friday. . . . Franklin Gutierrez is on a seven-game hitting streak. Since April 16, he is batting .424 with three doubles, a homer and three RBIs. . . . The Bisons rank second in the International League with 20 steals.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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