Mariners Prospect Ian Miller Ready to Help Seattle

SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 08: A general view during the National Anthem prior to the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros on Opening Day at Safeco Field on April 8, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 08: A general view during the National Anthem prior to the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros on Opening Day at Safeco Field on April 8, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

Early in the week, we were fortunate enough to talk to Seattle Mariners outfield prospect Ian Miller. We covered a few topics, including Dee Gordon, off-season work outs, and more.

When Ian Miller isn’t watching his Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl, or streaming How to Get Away With Murder, he is working to prove to his future employer that he can help the big team sooner rather than later.

In fact, Miller spends his off-seasons in Peoria, and uses it to get into incredible shape.

” I worked hard this off-season, and was able to add about 20 lbs of good weight… it is all about having the right diet and putting in the work to prepare for the regular season”.

But the added weight doesn’t speak to a change in approach for the Philadelphia burner, who has no plans to try to join the home run revolution.

” It really isn’t a part of my game. I’m focusing on hitting the ball to the gaps and using my speed to take the extra base… if a few sneak over the fence, then so be it.”

In truth, Miller set a career high in extra base-hits in 2017, thanks to a combination of 4 home runs, 22 doubles, and 5 triples in 512 AB’s. The 31 extra base-hits more than doubles his 2016 output (15) and shows that Miller has improved his weakest tool, according to scouts.

However, Miller’s game isn’t about the number of balls he can send over the fence. His game is about the havoc he can reek on the defense, using the one tool coaches cannot teach: speed. A true 70 grade runner (20-80 scale), Miller has no doubts about his ability to out run anybody:

” Whenever I get on the field, no matter who I am up against, I believe I am the fastest guy out there. No doubt in my mind”, said Miller.

Miller may have no doubt in his foot speed, but that does not mean he is not still learning new ways to use it. When the Mariner acquired a similar style player to Miller in Dee Gordon, he wasted no time in learning from the 5 year veteran.

“The first few days, I was just talking to (Gordon) about bunting. He is one of the best bunters in the game, and he was willing to show me a few tricks to improve that part of my game.”

But Miller plans to learn more from Gordon than just how to lay down the perfect drag or push bunt.

” To be honest, I haven’t even talked to him about base-running and stealing bases,” said Miller.  ” But I will absolutely get to that this spring.”

While there are undoubtedly things Miller can learn from Gordon, he is no slouch when it comes to running the bases. In 2017, Miller successfully stole 43 bases in his 48 attempts, and somehow had a “down season” after he stole 49 bases on 52 attempts in 2016.

Miller knows who he is, and where he needs to improve in his game to  make it to the big leagues. And while he continues to develop his offensive game, he is not ignoring his defense in the outfield.

” Last season, I heard a lot things about my defense, so I made it one of my goals to get better there. I am working a lot with (Mariners First Base Coach) Chris Prieto, and refining my skills to improve.”

Miller has the speed to become an elite defensive outfielder, but he knows that speed is not enough:

” Speed helps, but if you are taking bad routes and not focused on your angles, you can be a bad outfielder. A guy with 50 grade speed (average) who takes great routes, and does the little things like hitting the cut-off man, can win a Gold Glove.”

Perhaps Miller’s tireless pursuit to improve and unique skill set is what has kept him in the Mariners organization. Since Jerry Dipoto has taken over the Mariners baseball operations, it seems like just about every player from the previous regime has been traded.

But Miller has embraced the changed in player development, and has improved as a result:

” It has been a good change I think. The guys here will tell you exactly what you need to know, even when you don’t want to hear it. They hold you accountable”.

As a result of this change, and his own incredible thirst to improve, Miller finds himself on the door steps of Major League Baseball. He has had a nice spring training thus far, but he isn’t worried about making the team:

” I just hope to leave an impression this spring. It is about showing the staff and the rest of the guys that I can help this club. This spring isn’t about defining my role, or making a team, it is about showing all these guys that I can play and help them win.”

There are still scouts who will focus on what Ian Miller cannot do. They will say things like, “he doesn’t hit for any power”. Or, “he strikes out too much”. But that noise doesn’t bother Miller. He is here to prove them wrong.

Next: Top 10 Mariners Prospects: #3 Braden Bishop

Now, the former 14th round selection is knocking on the door of the Seattle Mariners and Major League baseball. If he continues to grow, it is only a matter of time before he kicks it down. Ian Miller is defying the odds, and making himself into a viable professional baseball player. If I were you, I wouldn’t try to stand in his way.

*Follow Ian Miller on Twitter at @8rellimnai