The Coastal Plain League has named Joe Miller of the Savannah Bananas the 2021 CPL Pitcher of the Year. This was Miller’s first season with the Bananas and second in the CPL after previously playing for the Asheboro Copperheads in 2019.
“Joe Miller was lights out this summer,” said Bananas head coach Tyler Gillum. “He started out on a temp contract and was only suppose to be here for two weeks. Fortunately for us, he stayed the entire summer and led us to a CPL championship. He is a special player but even better person. He was one of our best teammates and hardest workers all summer. It’s awesome to see him earn this award.”
Miller, a 5-10, 190-pound rising senior at the University of Penn finished the season as the league leader in strikeouts with 71 and second in ERA at 1.50. In total he notched a 6-0 regular season record across 10 appearances and 42 innings pitched. His control was on display as well with the left-hander walking only 17 batters, helping him to a 1.020 WHIP to go along with a .162 opponent’s batting average on the season.
With the season on the line in game two of the West Divisional Championship Series, Miller stepped on the mound in a must-win game and struck out 11 batters over 6 2/3 innings to help the Bananas to a 8-2 victory over the HP-Thomasville HiToms. The Bananas eventually won the series in game three and moved on to win the 2021 CPL Petitt Cup Championship over the Morehead City Marlins.
“This award means a lot,” said Miller. “I had a rough year at school, lots of ups and downs with Covid especially since we didn’t have a full season in 2020 or 2021 at Penn. Coming to Savannah I had been waiting a long time to play to play for something and win a championship. It was a huge summer that will help propel my baseball career.”
As Miller noted, he had to get very creative over the last two seasons to find a way to progress as a player while not actually being able to play full collegiate seasons as Penn did not play a conference schedule in 2020 or 2021.
“I actually built a gym in basement at home,” remembered Miller “I met up with friends from high school who were also playing collegiately and stuck at home. We organized our own games and worked out together at my house.”
Fast forward to the summer season and all that work was put on display. While the full teams will be announced next week, Miller also earned a First-Team All-CPL selection. All player awards are selected after gathering feedback from coaches as well as team and league officials.
Miller will return to Penn this fall and prepare for what he hopes will be a full collegiate season in 2022.