Mariners' Miller Answers Doubts About Defense





SEATTLEBrad Miller made huge strides during his first full season with the Mariners. The 2011 second-round pick hit .339/.412/.524 with high Class A High Desert before posting a .320/.406/.476 average with Double-A Jackson.

For the 6-foot-2, 185-pound shortstop out of Clemson, the year was about more than honing his skills at the plate. He came to the Mariners as a second-round pick in 2011 with the reputation as an inconsistent defensive prospect, so much so that he was seen as possibly better suited to play another position, perhaps third base.

But the organization wanted to give the 23-year-old a full season at shortstop to see if he could handle the job on a daily basis. And Seattle believes he did just that, although you wouldn't necessarily know it by looking at his errors total: 31. Twenty-six of those came during his time with High Desert, including 11 in April. In the 40 games he played for Jackson after his promotion, he made just five errors, giving the Mariners reason to believe he could be up to playing shortstop in the majors.

Couple that with the 186 hits he collected—second among all minor leaguers—and his star is on the rise. At the end of the season, the Mariners named him the winner of the organization's annual heart and soul award for his exemplary play and leadership.

General manager Jack Zduriencik is quick to point to Miller's ability to make the players around him better.

"He's a leader, on and off the field, and that's not something that's easy to find," Zduriencik said. "He just has that knack."

Miller said he headed into the offseason happy with what he'd done but focused on improving in 2013.

"I got in a lot of games, a lot of at-bats," Miller said. "That gave me a chance to see what works for me and what doesn't. I focused on trying to stay aggressive, both on offense and on defense, and trusting in myself."

The California League all-star wound up leading all Seattle minor leaguers with 56 multiple-hit games, and of the 137 games in which he played, he reached base safely 123 times, 90 percent.

Marinade

• Righthanded reliever Danny Farquhar, one of the prospects picked up from the Yankees in the July trade of Ichiro Suzuki, had a 1.00 ERA in his first eight games pitching for Lara in the Venezuelan League.

• Mariners shortstop Nick Franklin and catcher Mike Zunino were tied for the Peoria Javelinas team lead in the Arizona Fall League with 11 RBIs each.