Originally Published June 9, 2011

MillerCLThe Seattle Mariners went a little off the board at No. 62 overall to tab Clemson shortstop Brad Miller. I say ‘off the board’ because no one outside of the game hinted that Miller was a top 75 talent. There’s a reason for that, perhaps reasons.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Miller may not have the actions to stick at shortstop long term, mostly due to a throwing motion that can create consistency issues. His hands are fringe-average and his range up the middle needs improvement.

The arm strength is fine, perhaps a 55 grade or so, and he’s plenty athletic, but he’s a bit of a project at an up-the-middle position, especially his natural shortstop.

There are multiple reasons to like the player, however.

At the plate the left-handed hitting Miller has a line-drive swing with gap power that is average to his pull side. He’s aggressive early in counts and hits the fastball well. He can use the whole field but hasn’t had to in college since his bat speed and plate coverage allow him to hit balls on the outer quadrant to center and even right-center field.

He’s an above-average runner, but not a big base stealer despite good instincts. He’s a bit of a high-step runner with longer strides.

For me, Miller would be the club’s future in center and I’d make that transition as soon as possible, despite the value in squeezing some years at shortstop; if they wanted their future at short, Francisco Lindor at No. 2 overall would have been the way to go.

Miller has the physical tools to play a solid center field and his work ethic and overall approach to the game bodes well for such a move. If he maxes out offensively he could fit in left field, too, but start with center and go from there.

Of course, Miller is very likely to at least start his pro career at his natural position and the M’s probably won’t even entertain moving him until they have to do so. When that occurs remains to be seen. I’d make the move now because scouts tell me Miller is a fast mover with the bat. I’d be afraid his defense could delay his arrival in the big leagues or put the club in a situation where he’s hurting them defensively.

Scouting Grades (future)
Hit: 50
Power: 50
Run: 55
Glove: 40-45 (SS)
Arm: 55

Scout’s Notes
“There is a lot to like here. I think he can handle second or maybe third if he becomes a more efficient hitter, even if the power is minimal for the position.

“He’ll get himself out away sometimes, but he can do damage LCF to RCF; he can be pitched to, but he can hit mistakes. There’s some Stephen Drew in his game.”

“First of all, terrific kid. You’ll never see him at anything less than 100 percent effort. He brings an energy and winning disposition to the game every day.”

Jason A. Churchill

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