The conversation from earlier this season still lingers in the mind of Indians president Chris Antonetti.
“Someone asked me, ‘Is Owen Miller OK?’ I said, ‘I think so. What happened?’
“They said, ‘He only got two hits last night.’ ”
Miller hit so well at Triple-A Columbus—.406/.457/.609 with two home runs—that the shortstop earned a callup to Cleveland after just 16 games.
Some guys just hit. It doesn’t matter where they are. The 24-year-old Miller is one of those guys.
“Owen has managed to compete at every level he’s been at, and we were excited to acquire him last year,” Indians farm director James Harris said. “He has a mature approach and puts in the work to prepare each night.”
Miller was one of six players the Indians got from the Padres in last year’s Mike Clevinger trade. He was San Diego’s third-round pick in 2018 out of Illinois State.
Miller reached Double-A in his second pro season and the big leagues in his fourth, despite losing the entire 2020 season to the pandemic.
“He’s continued to have a very productive offensive approach at the plate,” Antonetti said, “and he’s done very well defensively in bouncing around the diamond.”
Where Miller settles in defensively is a question. In the minors he focused his efforts at shortstop, second base and third base, with rare appearances at first base and left field. His versatility is a selling point in an era of short big league benches.
“He’s competent making the routine plays,” Antonetti said.
With the Indians struggling to score runs, Miller’s bat obviously could add even more value to the big league club.
“Outside of the bat, versatility may be his next best trait,” Harris said. “He continues to work at each position, as we never know where or when the opportunity may come for him to help the major league team.”
— Shortstop Andres Gimenez’s initial trial as the replacement for Francisco Lindor lasted just 24 games, during which he made five errors and hit .179/.226/.308. The Indians demoted him to Triple-A Columbus.
— After hitting .319 with a .379 on-base percentage in his first three years in the organization, shortstop Tyler Freeman hit .375 with a .444 OBP through his first 18 games for Double-A Akron.