MILLEDGEVILLE — Representing the John Milledge Academy baseball team well this spring, junior Cody Miller proved versatility is a key ingredient at the high school level as he led his team offensively and in pitching, earning him 2014 All-County Player of the Year honors.
Miller, a transfer from Jones County, competed in a Trojan uniform for the first time this season—quickly gaining respect from coaches, teammates and fans with passion for the game and notable abilities.
Head coach Justin Mills believes both qualities are highly sought after in young players, but admits he was most impressed with Miller’s drive and work ethic—giving him the total package to be successful on the diamond.
“He’s a very talented kid both defensively and offensively, but more important to me is his work ethic,” Mills said. “He works harder than any other kid I’ve worked with. That seems to be becoming more and more rare, but he’s very passionate about baseball and has the total package because he’s very talented.
“He was a piece to our puzzle that I feel like we’ve been missing,” the head coach added. “He leads the guys well and the guys look up to him and respect him for his work ethic and passion. He’s an overall, well-balanced young man and works hard in everything he does. His passion for baseball is something we can’t have enough of.”
In his first season at JMA, Miller sported a .333 batting average accompanied by a .412 on-base percentage. The junior hit one home run and scored 15 runs for the Trojans.
“He’s what we call a gamer,” Mills said. “He worked hard at practice, but he’s not going to back down from competition, and when the pressure is on I feel like he plays his best. When we needed him the most, I felt like he came through and did a great job.”
More impressive to Mills was Miller’s pitching stats on defense—leading the team with a 2.6 ERA and claiming 38 strikeouts on the year.
“He came in last year as a very good baseball player. He was already very polished and had a fundamental swing,” Mills said. “More surprising to me was his defensive skills at short stop, and really he could play anywhere on the field. He ended up being our number one pitcher, and we didn’t really expect that.”
Surprisingly, Miller last pitched on a consistent basis in eighth grade before returning to the mound this spring. He credits his teammates behind him for making the transition back a smooth one.
“I definitely didn’t expect that going in, because the last time I pitched consistently was in middle school,” Miller said. “This is the first year that I’ve had innings on the mound since eighth grade.
“I lost control on the mound a couple times, but for the most part I believe I was consistent and threw strikes, which I feel like every high school pitcher should focus on,” he added. “I appreciate my defense for saving a lot of runs, because they did a great job behind me on the mound.”
Though, the junior ball player worked hard to improve his own game, his motivation came from his teammates this season.
“I just tried to help my teammates and win ball games,” Miller said. “I gave it my all in everything I did.”
While he did not always stand out in every post-game recap, Miller played an integral part in the Trojans’ success this season.
“Everybody we played knew who Cody Miller was before we played them, not because he hit .500, but because he was just a good ball player,” Mills said. “It’s a respect that I saw that other coaches had for Cody, and it wasn’t because of his numbers, but because of the kind of player he is. That was pretty cool for me to watch.”
According to Mills, players like Miller are rare in this day and time, but the third-year head coach admits his rising senior’s attitude is one that everyone in the Trojan dugout can emulate in the future.
“He’s just a joy to coach. Like I said, the package that he has: work ethic, passion and talent—it is contagious,” Mills said. “I’m not saying we’ve never had guys like that, but those kinds of players are a joy to coach.”
Miller credits his coaches and teammates for his success and believes the All-County honor is a result of the hard work he continues to put in day-in and day-out.
“It makes me feel like my hard work pays off. I feel like I put in more work than anyone else in the area,” he said. “I want to thank the coaches and teammates for staying behind me this year, even though it was my first year on campus. Go Trojans!”