Throughout the minor league season, I will be writing about a prospect every Monday who has reached the AA level or higher that could be on your fantasy roster by season's end, and what you should know about them. With Nick Franklin having already been promoted to the Majors, and former top prospect Dustin Ackley apparently relegated back to the outfield, could we see the Brad Miller era start in Seattle sooner rather than later?
Weight: 185 lbs.
On 40-man Roster: No
Age as of 6/17/13: 23 (turns 24 in October)
Miller was drafted in the 39th round out of high school, but opted to attend Clemson University instead, and was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft by the Mariners instead. He signed for a bonus of $750 K, and was able to get into 14 games at the end of the Midwest League season, hitting .415/.458/.528 in the small sample size. The Mariners' moved him up to High-A to start the 2012 season, and promptly went out and crushed the league. In 97 games, he hit 11 home runs, stole 19 bases, hit .339/.412/.524 and even had 52 walks against 79 strikeouts.
We'd be lying to ourselves if we weren't a bit skeptical of the performance given his home stadium of High Desert, but he kept the hit parade going in his promotion to AA Jackson, hitting .320/.406/.476 with another four home runs and four stolen bases in 40 games to finish his season. With one of the Mariners' other top prospects playing everyday at AAA to start the season, the Mariners returned Miller to AA to start this year, where he had his "worst" line at any stop, a .294/.379/.471 line with six home runs and four stolen bases in 42 games. He was called up a few days before Nick Franklin was promoted to the Majors, and in 19 games with Tacoma so far has four home runs, a stolen base, and a .346/.430/.551 slash line.
The Scouting Report - Scouting reports are gathered from other internet sources and written reports, unless otherwise noted.
Miller has shown the ability to hit at all stops so far, and is expected to be an above-average hitter (re: batting average) with the possibility of a bit of power (10-15 perhaps) as well as a bit of speed (10+ SB). There are questions about whether his defense is good enough to be an everyday shortstop at the Major League level, and whether he profiles better as a super utility type of player rather than an everyday starter in the infield. It seems like he will be given every opportunity to stay at shortstop, as the position is a point of weakness at the highest level, especially given that Nick Franklin is not expected to be able to stay at the position either. Miller's makeup is a major positive for him, and sounds like it could help him to play slightly above his anticipated skill level at times due to a good knowledge of the game
What's Keeping Him From Contributing Now?
Miller is not on the 40-man roster, and at this point it seems like the team is not ready to give up the defensive value that Brendan Ryan adds to the team. Ryan has been seeing a slight reduction in playing time, as players like Carlos Triunfel were up at times this season. However, the Mariners would probably be best served to let Miller keep playing for a little bit longer in AAA Tacoma, as he has just the 19 games above AA to this point, and the team isn't exactly threatening to make a playoff push at this time.
When Could He Arrive?
Miller seems likely to me to be up after the AAA season ends, as a partial early audition for the shortstop job for the 2014 season. Ryan is only under contract through the 2013 season, and will be a free agent after the season (as opposed to being under team control), so there could definitely be an opening that Miller can grab ahold of.
What Could He Do For Fantasy Owners Once He Gets There?
If Miller ends up as the starting shortstop, a .280/12/12/75R/50 RBI season seems very plausible. A lot of his value ties into whether or not he has a full-time job, as a utility role makes him ownable really in only AL-only and super deep leagues.