Miller's time

Fayetteville junior RHP makes big jump physically, mentally

Posted: April 13, 2017 at 1 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Fayetteville High junior Miller Pleimann delivers a pitch Monday, April 3, 2017, in the first inning of play against Rogers High at Bulldog Field in Fayetteville.
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NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Fayetteville High junior Miller Pleimann delivers a pitch Monday, April 3, 2017, in the first inning of play against Rogers High at Bulldog Field in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Miller Pleimann has grown three inches and added five mph to his fastball in the past year.

The junior right-handed pitcher's maturity couldn't have come at a better time for Fayetteville. Pleimann, a Wichita State pledge, has posted a 5-1 record to help the Bulldogs rise to the top of the 7A-West standings with a 7-1 record.

At A Glance

Miller Pleimann

SCHOOL Fayetteville

CLASS Junior

HEIGHT 6-3

WEIGHT 175

POSITION Right-handed pitcher

NOTABLE Born in Charlotte, N.C., Pleimann moved to Fayetteville when he was 3. Before FHS, he attended Root Elementary, McNair Middle School and Woodland Junior High. Pleimann said with a laugh he’s “not smart enough,” to be a surgeon like his father, Dr. Jason Pleimann, but plans to pursue a career in business after finishing baseball.

ON THE WEB http://www.arpreps.com/

In his last five appearances, Pleimann has surrendered no earned runs on four hits with 39 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings. That includes a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts in a 1-0 victory over Rogers High in nine innings on April 3.

"He's really settled in and been what you want a No. 1 guy to be," said Fayetteville coach Scott Gallagher. "He's got three pitches he can throw for strikes and usually, when I look down to the bullpen before a game, I'm not seeing the ball go all over the place. He's got good control and a good demeanor about him.

"When he goes out there, the guys play really hard for him."

Pleimann has gone from throwing in the low-80s to the mid-to-upper 80s with his two-seam fastball that runs in on the hands of right-handed batters. He also throws a curve ball and change up. As Pleimann's physical skills have evolved, so has that demeanor as he's gone from a timid sophomore to a confident 6-foot-3, 175-pound junior who aggressively attacks batters.

"Last year I was insecure, well, not insecure, but not as confident as I am on the mound this year," Pleimann said. "On every new batter I try to take a deep breath, just to kind of calm myself down and that's really helped me. And just growing as a person as really helped me gain more confidence."

Teammates have noticed the change, too. Catcher Alex Blagg said he has been "amazed by the difference in velocity," in Pleimann's pitches this season.

Bulldogs leadoff hitter and right-handed pitcher Jackson Sloan is close with Pleimann and said he can be a "jokester" when they're playing video games or hanging out with friends on weekends.

"It's kinda hard to see him being serious when he's up there on the mound because he's a completely different person," Sloan said. "He's grown up on the mound and he's really grown into a spot that we needed him to ... playing a big part of our team this season."

Zac Bottoms, the Arkansas Scouting Director for Prep Baseball Report, noticed Pleimann's improvement during a winter workout. He immediately began notifying college coaches, which has helped Pleimann attract offers from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Central Arkansas University. Bottoms said Wichita State was wise to pull the trigger on offering Pleimann a scholarship and securing a verbal commitment before "others guys came in."

Pleimann is the No. 14 player in the state, regardless of position, in the latest PBR rankings.

"Miller didn't really turn into a top guy until the past year. He's come on for sure," Bottoms said. "Miller can locate three pitches for a strike on consistent basis, has advanced arm strength and frame and arm action. And he projects to throw harder as he develops into that frame."

Pleimann didn't pitch well in his first outing this season. He hadn't chosen a college yet and several scouts were waving radar guns behind the backstop as he nervously delivered each pitch. He said he was happy to get that bad outing "over and out of the way in the first game rather than in the last game of the season."

During a fall scrimmage was the first time Pleimann realized the jump in his throwing velocity. He didn't notice the catcher's mitt popping louder or anything like that, though.

"Not until I saw on the gun," Pleimann said. "I was kind of surprised at first. ... I saw on the gun that I was up to 87 (mph), which is the fastest I had ever thrown, so I was kinda like, "wow!'"

Sports on 04/13/2017