2011 2nd round draft pick Brad Miller has moved through the Seattle Mariners system very quickly. And now, he has reached the top of the mountain.
As Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune first reported on Twitter (above), Miller is on his way to Seattle after a Triple-A career that spanned only 26 games. Divish's full story on the 23-year-old's promotion, complete with quotes from Miller and his manager in Tacoma, John Stearns, is a fine read, so make sure you read that. The left-handed hitting shortstop hit a very impressive .356/.426/.596 and reached base via hit or walk 52 times in those 26 games, and his bat should represent a significant upgrade over what Brendan Ryan and company have brought to the table over the past few seasons for the Mariners.
To make room on the 25-man roster for Miller it is expected that Carlos Triunfel -- who has just two hits in 24 at-bats this season and owns a .152/.188/.196 line in 19 games of MLB action over the last two years -- will be demoted to Tacoma. The Mariners will also need to make yet another 40-man move to get Miller on the roster.
It has been quite the quick ascent for Miller, the former Clemson standout, since being drafted by the Mariners. He has hit .334/.409/.516 in 999 minor league plate appearances to this point in his professional career while working his way from Low-A Clinton to High-A High Desert to Double-A Jackson and finally on to Triple-A Tacoma for the M's. He frequently gets compared to Kyle Seager as a hitter, and their first full pro seasons are startlingly alike. Seager hit .328/.401/.474 in 1,245 plate appearances in the minors and .387/.444/.585 in 24 games with Tacoma before being called up to Seattle in 2011. Miller hasn't posted an OPS under .850 at any of those stops and the 23-year-old who I was told has, "the best balance at the plate that I have ever seen" figures to get ample opportunities to showcase his talents over Seattle's remaining 83 games as their primary starter at shortstop.
Miller's talents are very good, even if they aren't the type that typically grab the attention of scouts and fans. His plate discipline continues to improve and that really allows him to be selective and still drive the ball all over the park. He's a very good fastball hitter but his short stroke and excellent balance enable him to really sting the ball all over the yard regardless of pitch type. He shows average power from alley to alley and figures to be able to be a 50 extra base hit bat or better if he reaches his potential at the plate. Miller climbed the minor league ladder quickly with a walk rate of 11.3% and just a 16.2% strikeout rate. He has a plus arm and solid range and can make some spectacular plays because of his hustle and attacking nature -- he is actually more likely to make a mistake on a routine play than he is on a difficult one. Miller has good speed once underway and, again, hustles relentlessly. He has a heads-up, throwback style that is perfectly complimented by his high socks and hitting without batting gloves.
The Mariners and Eric Wedge clearly took a liking to Miller in spring training as he was the only non-40-man position player to last the entire spring. He played shortstop, second and third base in the spring and has done the same in Jackson and Tacoma this year.
This move seems to have come quickly, but Miller looks like he is legitimately ready for the majors. He not only hit well overall with Tacoma, but he hit well in Tacoma -- a tough park by PCL standards -- where several Rainiers' players have struggled. Miller hit .440/.444/.720 at home. He also hit better against left-handed pitchers (.379/.419/.690) than against right-handers (.347/.429/.560). With Ryan now the backup and likely not long for the roster as a pending free agent, the future Mariners shortstop looks to be the current Mariners shortstop for the first time in a long time -- Brad Miller.
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