So much for the rookie learning curve.
If 100 PA is generally agreed as the first checkpoint in determining a rookie’s first taste of MLB action, then I guess you could probably say that Seattle Mariners‘ Brad Miller is well on his way to passing his first test with flying colors thus far, as he holds an impressive .270/.357/.473 triple-slash through 84 PA.
While his defense isn’t exactly anything to write home about, the not-so-buzzy prospect (though he was ranked within the organizational top-10 by Baseball America after 2012) has handled the bat impressively and has quickly found himself atop the team’s lineup as the leadoff man, a role that he has taken to with aplomb.
Though 54 at-bats at the no. 1 spot, the 23-year-old has posted an excellent .924 OPS — a far cry from everyone else that the Mariners has tried there.
But why has he been able to find such success in just his first cup of tea in the bigs, and his third season of pro ball overall?
Well, it goes back to the basic tools, and for Miller, that means his discipline at the plate. Sure, hitting major-league pitching is very difficult, and you can tell that there is a major learning curve for the M’s infielder (he’s mostly playing shortstop) as his 14.8 percent strikeout rate in Triple-A this season has jumped up to 21.4 percent already; however, one look at his 11.9 percent walk rate (12.3 percent in Triple-A) suggests that he is far from lost.
He might be swinging and missing at more advanced stuff, but at a 46.5 percent swing rate and 9.7 percent swinging strikes, Miller is showing the Mariners that he is by no means swinging his way into oblivion.
Combined with the pop he’s shown (already five doubles, two triples and a pair of homers on a 25 percent line drive rate), the fact that he’s not flailing away makes him the ideal candidate to fill the major hole at the top of the lineup that the M’s have dealt with all year long.
And with the disappointments of Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley in 2013, having Miller and Nick Franklin emerge as a potential 1-2 punch of the future means that the doom-and-gloom M’s can at least head into next season without the idea that they’ve been set back significantly in their quest to make some noise in the AL West.
They’re just reloading, that’s all.