Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Editor's note: College Baseball Nation is joined by guest writer, Riley Zayas, for coverage of the Texas Collegiate League. Riley Zayas is a high school freshman and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kid reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, his personal blog 360 Sports, and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports magazine and website. He is passionate about all things sports and can be followed on Twitter at @ZayasRiley.
For Lyle Miller-Green, the 100-plus degree dry heat of Amarillo, Texas has been a welcome change. At least, a welcome change from the humid summers of his native Virginia.
“It’s totally different from Virginia,” said Miller-Green. “It’s definitely hotter here but it’s just dry heat. I’ll take dry heat over a really humid day any day of the week.”
The weather has not been the only thing different for the 6’5, 230 lbs outfielder/pitcher out of George Mason University this summer in his first season playing in the Texas Collegiate League. Miller-Green has emerged as a clutch hitter for the first place Amarillo Sod Squad. As the last week of the season gets underway Miller-Green currently leads the team in RBI and has an impressive batting average of .305. Last week, he even earned the title of College Baseball Nation Hitter of the Week, after hitting for the cycle in Wednesday’s game against the Amarillo Sod Dogs, and totaling eight RBI.
“I’m just trying to do my part to help the team win,” said Miller-Green. “The Sod Dogs are a good team and we’re trying to distance ourselves from them in the division standings. Right now we’re on the top of the north division.”
The development he has made this summer has been tremendous, especially when you consider he has played in just 14 games during his entire college career. However, he did fare well at the plate in that small sample size, hitting .321 with 7 RBI. The improvement? Aggressiveness at the plate, says Miller-Green.
"I think that has been the biggest part of my approach, being aggressive at the plate.” -Lyle Miller-Green
“Not missing pitches I should hit,” said Miller-Green when asked about his approach this season. “Not taking fastballs right down the middle, no missing hanging curveballs that I can hit hard. I think that has been the biggest part of my approach, being aggressive at the plate.”
That aggressiveness has helped translate into victories for the Sod Squad who are now leading the north division with a 16-9 record. NJIT twins David and Juan Marcano have also played a key role in this success to clinch a spot in the four-team playoff next week.
“Everyone is doing their part to do what they can to help the team win,” Miller-Green told College Baseball Nation. “We definitely want to clinch that playoff berth. We have San Antonio and Tulsa here in the final week of the season. It’s just the final stretch of the race, the final push.”
Like many talented players at the college level, Miller-Green is a two-way player. At Lake Braddock high in Burke, Virginia, he was a four-year varsity player, Regional Player of the Year, and All-Conference Pitcher/Player of the Year. He has continued that dual success at George Mason, splitting time between relief appearances as a left handed pitcher and a superb outfielder. In 2020, he made five appearances on the mound, tossing 7.1 innings with a 4.91 ERA. His fielding percentage was a flawless 1.000%.
“You can pretty much do anything when you’re a two-way player,” said Miller-Green. “You can pitch, hit and play the field, so you can get pretty much every aspect of the game. You’re not limited to one position. It is definitely a grind. At George Mason, I stay after practice to get my arm work done in the weight room, and I have to keep up with my hitting routine as well. On top of that, more defensive work. It’s a grind.”
In the TCL, Miller-Green was relieved of his pitching duties, allowing him to both rest his arm and improve on his hitting at the same time.
“I’m giving my arm a break from the spring season,” said Miller-Green. “I would have loved to pitch down here but I’m grateful that I’m getting to focus on hitting for now. It keeps my mind off pitching for a little while as well.”
When asked if the decision to not pitch was his own or the George Mason coaching staff, Miller-Green said it is ultimately up to his coaches.
“Ultimately it is up to the college and what they will let you do,” he said. “What matters most is the spring season, and every school wants their players to be ready for the season, so that was part of the reason as to why I didn’t pitch. I need to keep my arm safe so I don’t get hurt. God forbid I do something to my elbow or my shoulder that could sideline me, especially with the fall season right around the corner.”
For Miller-Green this summer in the TCL has given him a new opportunity to face a variety of pitching from players at powerhouse D1 programs to top junior colleges.
“Everyone is a college pitcher here,” said Miller-Green. “Everyone here is a good pitcher regardless [of what college they play at]. Here I’m facing a lot of D1, JUCO guys, who are very good pitchers. Each pitcher is unique in their own way.”
Heading into the 2021 season at George Mason, Miller-Green will look to step up in big ways, especially because he has four years of eligibility remaining, giving him a prime opportunity to make a name for himself in the A-10 Conference early on. While the Patriots have had a baseball program since 1968, the team has made the NCAA Tournament on just seven occasions, and won a game just once, in 1992. With the dual-threat ability of Miller-Green, that could easily change as early as next spring, when the NCAA looks to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in two years.
It is obvious Miller-Green always puts the team first. When asked if there was anything he’d like to add, Miller-Green responded, “I’m just going to keep doing whatever I can to help my team win.”
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