No. 3 prospect Miller's development 'falling into place' with career game

May 9th, 2024

Already in the midst of a breakout season, turned in his best game yet as a professional Wednesday night.

As Phillies Minor League infield coordinator Adam Everett sees it: "It's all falling into place."

The club's third-ranked prospect homered, matched his career high with four hits and set a professional best with four RBIs in Single-A Clearwater's 9-8 loss at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

This kind of performance is becoming routine for Miller, who has hits in 14 of his 17 games this season -- half of them multihit performances. With nine total bases Wednesday, the 2023 first-rounder upped his slugging percentage to a league-best .566 in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Florida State League.

"He's a big strong kid," Everett said. "He sees the ball well. He swings and strikes. He doesn't swing too many pitches off the plate, which is a lot of the reason why he hits it so well. He works at it. It's one thing to have ability and talent, and it's another to have ability and talent and work hard and be humble about it and keep grinding and wanting to get better. Ever since the day we've signed him, he's been impressive."

Miller has always been on the stronger side for a shortstop. MLB's No. 54 overall prospect is well-known for winning the 2022 High School Home Run Derby as a junior, but his added weight over the offseason has already paid off in his quality of contact a month into the season.

Three of his four hits came in excess of 102 mph, which has been a common theme. His hardest-hit ball during the regular season last year came at 105 mph, a mark he's surpassed seven times in 18 games this season, including a 107.2 mph double in the ninth inning.

Of course, adding reps helps tremendously. Miller held his own across 16 games (including the postseason) mere months after being drafted to slash .267/.348/.400 last year, and he's on another level now.

"The biggest thing is he's confident," Everett said. "Once you first get into pro ball, especially coming out of high school, it's a different animal, and I think he's comfortable now. He's got the experience of what to expect. This is how to take care of my body. This is how I should go about my business every day. The kid's eager to learn, and he's utilizing everything that he's got, whether it be experience, whether it be technology, whether it be the coaching staff."

Miller's offensive progress is easy to track, but Everett has also been impressed by the 19-year-old’s defense during his frequent visits to Clearwater. Many scouts see Miller as likely to shift to third base eventually, but the Phillies have kept him at short.

Everett sees the potential. An 11-year MLB veteran, he too was a first-round pick (12th overall in 1998) and frequently talks with Miller about setting realistic expectations and playing within yourself. They work together on everything under the sun defensively -- perfecting arm angles, backhand plays, proper angles, moving side to side -- and the results are showing.

"It's head over heels compared to last year," Everett said. "He's done a 180. It's unbelievable. We really worked hard in spring on a few things, and it's kinda like offensively, he's made some big-time adjustments. He's comfortable now and it's off to the races for him because he looks -- knock on wood -- really good. I don't want to jinx it, but he looks like a big league shortstop out there right now."