Jai Miller Seeks Stability, Opportunity With Athletics





OAKLAND—After suiting up for three organizations in 2010, outfielder Jai Miller came to spring training this year with a simple plan.

"I knew the staff up here hadn't seen me, and I wanted to make as good of an impression as I possibly can," Miller said.

Farm director Keith Lieppman took note, saying, "(Miller) came into big league camp and showed an athletic, defensive game. That's what caught everybody's eye, how well he played the outfield. Put that together with solid at-bats, and he made quite an impression."

While Miller, 26, did not make the Athletics' Opening Day roster, he put himself in position for a quick callup from Triple-A Sacramento.

That's welcome news for the 2003 fourth-round pick out of Selma (Ala.) High, who spent seven years in the Marlins system. Florida removed him from its 40-man roster at the end of spring training last year and lost him to the A's on waivers. In 10 games for Sacramento, Miller went 4-for-34 (.118) before hitting waivers again, this time landing with the Royals.

With Kansas City's Triple-A Omaha affiliate, Miller batted .267/.340/.531 with 18 homers in 84 games to earn a big league callup in late August. In 55 at-bats for the Royals he batted just .236, but it was enough to give him a new perspective on baseball.

"Once I got the callup and got a chance to play in the big leagues, that really helped me and opened my eyes to a lot of things," said Miller, who signed as a minor league free agent with the A's in November because they intently pursued him.

Miller spent the offseason working with a personal trainer, concentrating on improving his speed and explosiveness.

All concerned think this could be the turning point for Miller, who was the first three-sport all-state performer in Alabama history. Miller starred in basketball and at quarterback in football, though scouts considered him a top prospect as a wide receiver. He had signed a letter of intent to play for Stanford before the Marlins wooed him away with a $250,000 bonus.

A's ACORNS

• In a break from the recent past, the A's opened 2011 with only one rookie on the big league club: 31-year-old lefty reliever Bobby Cramer.

• Second baseman Jemile Weeks, the 12th overall pick in 2008, got fast-tracked to Triple-A Sacramento despite playing just 67 games for Double-A Midland last year while dealing with hip soreness.