Brian Miller Plays To His Strengths
Brian Miller turned pro and met his baseball idol in the same year.
The 23-year-old outfielder's favorite player has always been Ichiro Suzuki, who never hit more than 15 home runs in a season yet compiled Hall of Fame numbers and played outstanding defense in a brilliant 18-year career.
The Marlins drafted Miller, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound lefthanded hitter, in the supplemental first round in 2017 out of North Carolina. He got to meet Suzuki soon after entering the organization.
"I was pretty star struck,” said Miller, who estimates he can get down the first base line in 3.4 seconds on a bunt.
Miller, a native of Raleigh, N.C., has always been speedy, adding basketball guard duty and football skills at quarterback, receiver and safety to his baseball role in high school.
But because he didn’t go to any baseball showcases while playing all three sports, Miller was lightly recruited. He committed to UNC Asheville but then switched to UNC, the school he has always loved, when they offered him a shot as a preferred walk-on.
Miller hit .332 in three college seasons, then hit .322 in his 2017 pro debut spent at low Class A Greensboro. He split last season between high Class A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville, and while he did not homer in 128 games he hit .295/.338/.355 with 40 stolen bases in 53 attempts.
That performance was a factor in the Marlins' decision to invite Miller to big league camp, but how far can he go without a power game?
"I do think (power) will come as a I develop man strength,” Miller said. "I’m really confident in my skill set and the way my speed will translate. But I’m never going to sacrifice what I’m good at to become what some people want me to become.”
Miller, who signed for $1.9 million, had a huge offseason. He married his high school sweetheart, Michelle, and honeymooned near Cancun.
Now Miller wants to take the next step in his pro career.
"I don’t think I was ready to play pro baseball as an 18-year-old,” Miller said. "My biggest jump came in college. Now that I’m here at spring training, I’m excited for the opportunity.”
—The Marlins are excited about Rule 5 righthander Riley Ferrell. The 6-foot-2 reliever from Texas Christian is 25 and spent last season at Double-A and Triple-A in the Astros' system, striking out 67 in 51.2 innings.
—Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa suffered a hamstring injury in the second game of Grapefruit League play. He ranked as the system's No. 1 prospect until the Marlins acquired righthander Sixto Sanchez from the Phillies in the J.T. Realmuto trade.