Jalen Miller Carries Offensive Gains Forward
Patience at the plate—and from the organization—has benefited Double-A Richmond second baseman Jalen Miller.
The 2015 third-round pick from high school in Georgia didn’t hit higher than .227 in his first three seasons.
"He wanted to get three hits in one at-bat as a youngster,” farm director Kyle Haines said. "You could just tell he was way overly aggressive.”
When Miller returned to high Class A San Jose to repeat the California League last year, the Giants—from assistant director of player development Alan Zinter and minor league hitting coordinator Dave Hansen to San Jose manager Lipso Nava and hitting coach Wilfredo Romero—made a concerted effort to get Miller to become a more selective hitter.
Miller said he "really focused on hitting my pitches and not hitting pitchers’ pitches.”
The results were striking: His batting average rose to .276. He hit 14 home runs (after hitting a combined 11 in his first three seasons). Throw in 35 doubles, and Miller's .434 slugging percentage climbed nearly 100 points.
"He’s probably the most improved player we’ve seen in our system in the last year,” Haines said.
A righthanded hitter, Miller carried his offensive improvement into 2019. In his first 13 games with Richmond, he went 13-for-45 (.289) with three homers.
Miller came out of Riverwood International Charter High as a shortstop who drew comparisons with fellow Georgian Brandon Phillips. After spending time at short in each of his first three minor league seasons, Miller has been solely a second baseman since 2018.
Haines cited Miller’s makeup as a key reason he has rebounded from those first three seasons, saying Miller is "very emotionally mature and he can handle some struggles . . . that most kids can’t handle at his age.”
Miller, now 22, said, "I learned my first full season that basically, don’t panic . . . Once you panic, before you know it, you fall into that rabbit hole. You want to stay even keel.”
Haines called Miller "one of the highest-character guys we’ve got in the system. He’s a very easy kid to root for.”
High-A San Jose catcher Joey Bart was expected to miss four to six weeks with a broken bone in his left hand after he was hit by a pitch from Stockton’s Mitchell Jordan on April 15. Bart, a Georgia Tech alum who was the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, had gone 10-for-37 (.270) with two homers in 10 games.
Tyler Beede, the Giants’ first-round pick in 2014, put up impressive numbers in his first three starts of 2019 with Triple-A Sacramento. The right-hander from Vanderbilt racked up 22 strikeouts in 12-2/3 innings and gave up only eight hits.