Small world for Mummau, Miller

By on August 10, 2016

 

L-L products help propel Everett Aquasox in playoff race

Ephrata grad Brandon Miller’s (right) first manager in professional ball is Manheim Central product Rob Mummau (left), skipper for the Short-Season Single-A Everett Aquasox in the Northwest League.

Ephrata grad Brandon Miller’s (right) first manager in professional ball is Manheim Central product Rob Mummau (left), skipper for the Short-Season Single-A Everett Aquasox in the Northwest League.

As Ephrata’s Brandon Miller was preparing for this year’s Major League Baseball draft, he sought out several people to get an idea of what to expect.

One of those was Manheim Central product Rob Mummau.

Considering the former Barons’ star was a 1993 selection of the Toronto Blue Jays, in whose farm system he played until 2000, Mummau was a good source.

As things unfolded, Miller was drafted in the sixth round by the Seattle Mariners this past June, then got assigned to their Short-Season Single-A squad in Everett, Wash.

Imagine his surprise when his manager with the Aquasox turned out to be … Mummau.

“Definitely a small world,” said Miller, a First-Team All-American pitcher at Millersville University. “When I actually got drafted, (the Mariners) said, ‘You’ll probably be playing for Rob,’ and I had no idea that it was even an option. I didn’t know that he was a coach out here.’

A 1993 Manheim Central graduate, Mummau is a seventh-year skipper in the Mariners’ system and the reigning Northwest League Manager of the Year. College players selected by the M’s typically start in Everett, and when Mummau got an email shortly after the draft, Miller’s name, sure enough, was on the roster.

“It’s probably very unusual,” Mummau said of having two individuals on the same roster whose hometowns are in such close proximity. “But baseball is a small world. It’s pretty neat to coach a boy from your hometown, so to speak. He’s a great guy and we sure are glad to have him on the team.”

Added Miller: “It’s been awesome being able to have him as a coach and to just have someone I can talk to that I actually kinda know somewhat, someone who knows where I come from and knows my family.”

Turns out that Mummau and Miller’s fiance’s mother were classmates at Manheim Central. And although Mummau didn’t know Miller all that well prior to this summer, he was familiar with Brandon’s father, Brian, who also played baseball at MC.

“(Brian) was a good ball player,” Mummau said.

Clearly, those talents were passed on to Brandon. In his first nine appearances for the Aquasox, Miller owns a league-leading 0.92 WHIP. Although he is just 1-2 record-wise, his ERA is a respectable 3.48 with 26 K’s and only five walks in 33 2/3 innings.

Recently, Miller was selected to start in the second-ever Pioneer League-Northwest League All-Star Game at Lindquist Field in Ogden, Utah.

“He’s been doing really, really well,” Mummau remarked. “(What’s impressive is) his professionalism, maturity, he’s a big-time strike thrower and he’s had a lot of success, so that was a lot of the reason why he went to the All-Star Game. He’s been really, really good.”

It was at a dinner the night before the All-Star Game that Miller was presented with the opportunity to start for the Northwest League, which earned an 11-5 victory. Miller tossed one inning of scoreless ball.

“It was a huge honor,” Miller recalled. “They came up to me at the dinner table the night before the game and asked me if I wanted to start and I said, ‘Sure.’ I wasn’t going to turn that down.”

Truth be told, his stats would make Mariners’ ace Felix Hernandez proud. And speaking of Hernandez, the six-time All-Star made a rehab start with the Aquasox in mid-July, where Miller and his teammates got an up-close look at the M’s great.

“(Felix) was fantastic with all the kids,” Mummau said. “His brother (Moises) is our pitching coach, he took pictures with all the kids and he was very down to earth, just like a regular guy, and it was a great experience for all the kids … Any time you get a guy of his stature and ability, I was happy to see him and how he goes about his work. It’s pretty special.”

The way Miller’s been going about his work is also impressive. Mummau said that his fastball – and ability to locate it – is one of the strengths that he has in his repertoire.

“We’re not trying to overhaul anything … just letting him be who he is and maybe tweak a thing or two here and there,” Mummau said. “But there isn’t a whole lot that he needs to change mechanically, if anything. Just like any pitcher, (you want to be) consistent with all your pitches and the experience itself is invaluable. Every time he toes the rubber for a game, it’s a good learning experience for him or anybody up at this level.”

Miller said that he works more with Moises Hernandez than he does Mummau, whose focus is primarily with the position players and hitters. That’s not to say, however, that he hasn’t picked up words of wisdom from his skipper.

“It’s more off-the-field stuff and life in general,” Miller said of his conversations with Mummau. “But he’s definitely taught us that it’s persistence (which is important), especially at pro ball, it’s a grind every day, so just keep working on things that we’ve been taught.”

Hernandez’s sessions with Miller have centered a lot on throwing from the same arm slot.

“I’ve learned a lot from him,” he said, “probably because his brother is Felix, so he’s learned a lot as well. Definitely throwing all of my pitches like a fastball (is key). I struggled with different arm slots for different pitches. So now I’m trying to be able to replicate each pitch and make it look like it’s going to be a fastball, but then have movement at the end. So that’s one thing that I’ve definitely been working on.”

As Mummau can attest, the results have already been positive.

“His slider and his change-up have gotten progressively better as the year’s gone on,” Mummau said, “and being able to locate that and get more swings and misses has been a big help for him.”

Asked if there’s a chance that Miller could still be promoted this season, Mummau said, “We don’t know for sure. My anticipation is that he’ll be here the whole season, seeing as we have only about four weeks left. But anything is possible.”

Aquasox fans would love to see Miller remain in Everett, being that their team is currently in a playoff race and holding first place in the Northwest League North standings in the second half.

“It’s definitely a great group of kids,” Mummau said, “and I think we have a really good chance to make the playoffs.”

There is no arguing Mummau’s eye for talent. In his scouting duties for the Mariners, he has signed current MLB’ers Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager.

Following his playing days in the Blue Jays’ farm system, then spending a year with the Nashua Pride, he joined the Mariners’ organization and he is happy in his current role.

“I really don’t look too far ahead,” Mummau said. “I scout nine months out of the year and do this the other three months. So as far as looking ahead past today, I try not to do that. I’m very happy and very fortunate to be in this position.”

Asked if he has ambitions to move up the ladder, he said, “I really haven’t thought about it too much. I’m just happy to be in this spot right now and I’m more concerned about getting the players promoted and moving up and making them better and trying to make a difference with them. At the end of the day, it’s all about them. It’s not about me.”

Miller is, no doubt, glad to have him.

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