Miller raking in Triple-A, knocking on door

May 16th, 2021

For a moment on Sunday morning, Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti was concerned that something had happened to infield prospect the night before.

“Someone asked me this morning, ‘Hey, is Owen Miller OK?’” Antonetti said. “I’m like, ‘I think so. Why, what happened?’ They said, ‘He only got two hits last night.’”

Somehow, Miller, Cleveland's No. 16 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has put himself in a position where a two-hit night looks like an off-night, and now the question is whether the 24-year-old infielder will get his shot in the Majors sooner rather than later.

“Owen has gotten off to a great start to the season and has continued to position himself well for a Major League opportunity when it’s there,” Antonetti said. “He’s continued to have a very productive offensive approach at the plate and he’s done very well defensively in bouncing around the diamond. He’s played third base, shortstop, second base and first base. Owen’s doing everything he can to take advantage of the opportunity he has and prepare himself for that Major League opportunity when it’s there.”

In 10 games with Triple-A Columbus, Miller has gone a whopping 20-for-40 with three doubles, one triple, one homer, seven RBIs and a 1.235 OPS. If he’d get the call to the big leagues, he’d fill a similar role as Yu Chang, who’s hit .137 with a .362 OPS in 23 games entering Sunday. And with Miller’s ability to move around the infield, he seems like an excellent option for Cleveland to try at the Major League level.

“He would tell you, when we asked him in Spring Training, he felt his best positions were second base and third base,” Antonetti said. “Those were the places where he had spent the most time recently. So that’s why we started to mix shortstop and first base back into the fold to help his comfort there.”

One quarter down, three to go
The Indians are just a handful of games away from hitting the quarter mark of the 162-game season, and Antonetti took some time Sunday morning to reflect on what he’s learned about his club:

“When we reflect back on what we expected coming into the season is that we expected to have a really competitive team, but we knew we were going to be young,” Antonetti said. “Our success was going to depend upon how that young group of players continued to grow at the Major League level. What we’ve seen so far is by and large, that group’s done a really good job coming together and finding a way to do both things: Win games and continue their individual development. We know for us to be a successful team for the balance of the season, that’s going to have to continue.”

Ready to face Ohtani
Although Angels star two-way player Shohei Ohtani has been dealing with some arm fatigue, it looks like he’ll be slated to face the Indians on Wednesday. He’s made five starts this year, pitching to a 2.10 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old has done just as much damage on the other side of the ball, entering Sunday owning an .897 OPS with 10 doubles and two triples while also keeping himself near the top of the MLB home run leaderboard with 11 long balls.

Not only will the Indians have a front row seat to the Ohtani show, but they’ll need to figure out how to cool him down during the three-game series against the Angels, beginning on Monday.

“That is such a unique -- I mean, really, when you think about generational talent, he’s a generational talent,” Antonetti said. “There are no players or athletes that can do the things he can do on both sides of the ball, and to do it at such a high level is really extraordinary and unique. So, I would treasure the opportunities we continue to get to watch him play and compete. I’d be OK if he needed an extra day to rest his arm so we don’t have to face him. But aside from when we’re facing him, I really do enjoy watching him play and compete because there just aren’t guys like him.”