TAMPA — When Cambridge's Peter Miller was just a wiry sophomore, his pitching coach, former Jesuit pitcher and former first-round pick Sam Marsonek, predicted his fastball would hit the 90s by the time he was a senior.
Marsonek says Miller was 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds then, back when Miller told him his dream was to follow in his pitching coach's footsteps and play pro ball.
Now it is all becoming reality.
At tiny Class A Cambridge, Miller — a 6-1, 190-pound senior — is drawing major-league scouts to Doc Nance Field: the Yankees, Mets, Braves, Marlins, Red Sox … three times. The University of Tampa offered a scholarship in the fall. He has received interest from the University of Florida.
All this for a pitcher who entered this season with just four innings of varsity experience.
"I really didn't think I was going to be a pitcher," Miller said. "I stopped pitching when I got to high school.
"I didn't throw hard enough; I couldn't throw a strike. I wasn't ready to pitch."
Today Miller might be one of the best reasons Cambridge has a shot at reaching its third straight Class A state title game — and this time winning it. After a summer of daily long toss and gym trips with his brother, former Lancers pitcher Michael Miller, and the tutelage of Marsonek, Miller is hitting 92 miles an hour on the radar gun.
"He's just gained so much confidence just in the last six months, just trusting in his abilities and realizing he's a pretty good ballplayer," Marsonek said. "That's his biggest gain."
Miller added about 15 pounds to his frame since last season. He has added 8 miles per hour on the radar gun. But Miller credits Marsonek and his mechanics work as the biggest reason for his improvement.
"He turned me into a pitcher, and not just a guy on the mound trying to throw the ball through a wall," he said.
Because Miller hasn't pitched much in high school — and more so because he is the Lancers' starting shortstop — he has been limited to late-inning duties. He has struck out 21 in 111/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.
The goal, however, is to have Miller ready to start by the playoffs and add him to a staff that already has incumbent starters Matt Fishman and Derek Self.
Miller, Marsonek says, is special.
He saw something years ago.
"He has desire, heart, stuff you can't coach," Marsonek said. "If a kid's got that, he can go a long way."