Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard are the yin and yang of college baseball's most
celebrated pitching staff. Miller is a 6'6", 210-pound lefthander, quiet
and unassuming--introverted even--as uncomfortable in the spotlight as he is at
peace on the mound. Bard is a 6'4", 202-pound righthander, brash and
confident, a fiery presence both on the field and off. Miller's sense of style
is old khaki shorts and beat-up golf shirts; Bard prefers trendy T-shirts. But
the two hard-throwing juniors have one thing in common: Both are considered top
10 prospects in the June 6-7 major league baseball draft. If Miller is not
taken No. 1 by the parsimonious Kansas City Royals, it's widely believed he'll
go No. 2 to the Colorado Rockies.
Money has figured
into Miller's draft status before. As a senior at Buchholz High in Gainesville,
Fla., in 2003, he was considered the top amateur pitcher in the country.
Concerns over his hefty price tag (at the time he reportedly was asking for a
bonus of $3 million) caused him to slip all the way to the third round, where
he was selected by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. "I really wanted to go to
college," says Miller, "so I just threw a number out there figuring
that if they matched it, I would have to take it." Tampa passed, making him
the highest draft pick that year not to sign.
So Miller went
off to Chapel Hill, where he found a partner in crime in Bard, the North
Carolina high school player of the year at Charlotte Christian and a 20th-round
pick of the New York Yankees. In their first season together, in 2004, the two
starters led the Tar Heels to a 43-21 record. Bard was the ACC freshman of the
year, and Miller won second-team All-ACC honors. But with expectations higher
in their sophomore year, a poisonous locker room--"too many cliques,"
says Bard--contributed to a late-season collapse. The Heels finished on a 6-11
skid, and after the team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament, Bard and
Miller thought about transferring. "It just wasn't a lot of fun," says
Miller. "I think there was a lot of resentment in the locker room from the
older players toward some of us younger guys, and that spilled onto the
Miller and Bard
took out their frustrations on batters in the Cape Cod League, doing so well
that Baseball America named them the top two pro prospects there. Bard went 3-3
with a 1.25 ERA and led the league in strikeouts. Meanwhile, Miller put
together a perfect 6-0 record with a 1.65 ERA and turned in one performance
that will remain in Cape League lore. On a foggy night in Chatham, Miller
struck out the first 12 batters he faced--only to have his record outing erased
when the game was called after four innings. "That's one I wish I could
keep," he says with a sigh.
returned to school, Miller, Bard and the rest of the Carolina pitching staff
grew mustaches to bolster team unity. ("Hideous," says Bard of Miller's
'stache. "Worst on the team.") With improved team chemistry, the Tar
Heels are 45-13 and even spent three weeks ranked No. 1 in the country, a first
for the program. Meanwhile, scouts have flocked to Chapel Hill, with more than
40 showing up on Feb. 19 for a Bard-Miller doubleheader against Seton Hall. One
bird dog calls Miller, who was ACC pitcher of the year, "can't-miss,"
comparing his style with that of a young Tom Glavine. "Both these guys are
major league pitchers," says the scout. "Miller might be one right now,
and Bard is a bulldog with a mid-90s fastball." With the NCAA tournament
set to begin this weekend, Bard is 7-3 with a 3.53 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 79
innings. Miller has solidified his standing as the nation's top prospect, with
an 11-2 record, 2.07 ERA and 102 K's in 95 2/3 innings.
Since they are
likely to turn pro after the season, both know that this will probably be their
last shot at a trip to Omaha for the College World Series. "Last year left
a really bad taste in our mouths," says Miller. "The draft will take
care of itself. Right now our focus is on taking this team all the