M's Go Back To ACC In 2011 Draft
SEATTLE — The Mariners have not been reluctant to dip into the pool of talent coming out of the Atlantic Coast Conference in recent years, and Brad Miller says that will only make the organization stronger.
Seattle drafted Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager out of North Carolina in 2009 and both are already starting in Safeco Field—Ackley at second base and Seager at third.
The 2011 draft saw the Mariners take lefthander Danny Hultzen out of Virginia with the second overall pick and Miller out of Clemson in the second round with the 62nd pick.
"It's cool, playing in the ACC and facing pitchers like Danny, and hitters like Ackley and Seager," Miller said. "That's what you want, to play at that high level with those great players. It's been cool to follow them, two lefthanded hitters like me. I looked up to them. It's great to have them pave the way and already be up here."
The Mariners are looking for players who can get to the big leagues quickly as the club is being remade under the direction of general manger Jack Zduriencik.
Miller was the ACC player of the year in 2011—not thanks to Hultzen, who hit Miller's finger and broke it on a bunt attempt at midseason. Nevertheless, Miller finished with a .395 average and .498 on-base percentage (both best in the ACC) as well as 56-game totals of 50 RBIs and 21 steals in 26 tries.
The Mariners wasted no time in getting Miller into games, sending him to low Class A Clinton just a few days after striking a deal with him on Aug. 15.
He has the sense that the Mariners are the kind of team a young player wants to be with.
"It's an exciting time," Miller said. "You're seeing that some days, five or six rookies are out there on the field, depending on who's pitching. That's exciting."
After the season in Clinton finishes up, Miller will get a couple of weeks off before the start of instructional league on Sept. 19.
• Righthander Chance Ruffin, 22, turned out to be the player to be named in the Mariners' July 30 deal with the Tigers, and Ruffin was promoted to the big league roster.
• Lefthander James Paxton was 3-0, 1.85 in seven starts since his promotion from Clinton to Double-A Jackson, with 51 strikeouts and 13 walks for a WHIP of just 1.05.