BRYAN -- The Brazos Valley Bombers organization may have played less than ten games in its history, but it can now count two players in the professional ranks. Pitchers Ryan Miller and Ryan Riddle have each signed with Major League organizations, Miller with the Cleveland Indians and Riddle with the St. Louis Cardinals. They become the first two players in Bombers history to go pro.
Miller was the first to sign – in fact, he did so before he ever actually wore a Bombers uniform. The Blinn standout, originally drafted by Cleveland in the 36th round in 2006, was inked by the Indians as a draft-and-follow just days before the Tribe lost his rights. The Indians were encouraged by Miller’s exceptional sophomore season with the Buccaneers, during which he went 9-0 with a miniscule 2.05 ERA. In just 92.0 innings pitched, the lefty struck out 115 batters to rank among the national junior college leaders. This came on the heels of a 6-3, 3.01 freshman season that first caught Cleveland’s attention.
As the calendar progressed towards May 31, when Cleveland had to sign Miller or lose his rights, the baseball press was keeping an eye on him. Baseball America listed Miller among its top 150 draft-eligible prospects for the MLB draft on June 7 and 8, which would have placed him in the fourth or fifth round. Unwilling to risk losing a prize like Miller, the Indians finally signed the Cypress native in the last week of May. Miller’s professional career will begin with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Cleveland’s affiliate in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League.
After the Bombers lost Miller, they plugged the hole in their rotation by picking up Riddle with the first overall pick in the Texas Collegiate League tryout draft on June 1. Unlike Miller, Riddle actually donned a Bombers uniform, starting the first game in team history on June 9 in Colleyville. He also made a relief appearance on June 12 against in Denton against the Outlaws. In his short Bombers career, Riddle had no decisions with a 4.70 ERA in 7.2 innings, striking out 7.
Riddle came to the Bombers after a breakout season with Texas Wesleyan that saw him go 9-0 with a 1.88 ERA. He finished tops in the conference in ERA, ranking among the NAIA’s national leaders, and also led the conference in opponent’s batting average with a paltry .207 mark. The junior lefty had previously pitched for the University of Texas-Arlington, where he set a Southland Conference record for shutout innings in the postseason. Riddle’s collegiate career began with a 7-2 campaign at North Central Texas College.
The Bedford native was eligible for the MLB draft earlier this month but wasn’t selected, making him a free agent who could sign with any Major League organization. After long looks from several clubs, St. Louis pulled the trigger and signed Riddle. He will begin his pro career with the Batavia Muckdogs, the Cardinals’ affiliate in the very same New York-Penn League in which Miller will debut.
After a rain-shortened road trip, the Bombers return home for games tonight and tomorrow evening. Tonight is Radio Alegria Night with the Bombers, as Brazos Valley hosts the Denton Outlaws with the help of Radio Alegria AM 1240. Weatherford’s visit to Brazos Valley Bank Ballpark on Thursday marks the second Bombers Thirsty Thursday of the season, featuring 50-cent 16-ounce soft drinks and one dollar 12-ounce draft beers, sponsored by Jack FM.
The Bombers are members of the nine-team Texas Collegiate League, one of the nation’s premier summer collegiate circuits. Teams like the Bombers bring minor league baseball-style entertainment to communities throughout the country, giving some of the best college players a chance to further their careers in wood bat leagues in front of Major League scouts. The Bombers 48-game inaugural season is underway and runs through early August, followed by league playoffs and a championship series. Tickets are on sale now by calling the Bombers ticket office at (979) 779-PLAY, visiting the Bombers office in Bryan, or logging on to the Bombers’ official web site at www.bvbombers.com.