As the small samples begin to grow larger, Brian Miller's ability to make contact and collect hits has not wavered, often putting him on the right side of a bad bounce.
The Marlins' 11th-ranked prospect singled four times and stole a base Friday as Class A Advanced Jupiter downed St. Lucie, 5-2, at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.
Gameday box score
"I really didn't put a solid pitch in play, I kind of just had a few balls fall," Miller said. "I'm seeing the ball well. If I put the ball in play, the hits are going to fall. I just found holes."
The four-hit effort was the third of Miller's 70-game Minor League career, boosting his batting average to .311, while the steal was his fourth of the season.
"If you're not a guy that relies on doubles and home runs in your game, you definitely want those days when the balls are falling," he said. "Especially having speed, you want to be able to beat out some balls on the infield, balls that you don't necessarily square up to the outfield."
The No. 36 overall pick in last year's Draft thrived in his first experience in pro ball, batting .322/.384/.416 with 17 doubles, 28 RBIs and 21 thefts in 57 games with Class A Greensboro. According to FanGraphs, the lefty-swinging Miller hit 58 percent of batted balls on the ground and 42.1 percent to the opposite field last season. He made note of the difference between professional shortstops and their college counterparts and has seen those numbers shift to 52.9 percent and 29.4 percent, respectively.
"Those are guys that can really play up the middle and make some plays," he said.
Prior to becoming a competitive balance pick, Miller faced stiff competition in the Atlantic Coast Conference at the University of North Carolina, where he was a .332 career hitter. He also stole 55 bases and compiled a .453 on-base percentage in three seasons at Chapel Hill.
"I think playing in the ACC really helped prepare me for pro ball, but it's definitely a step up," he said. "Everyone is just a step better, it's the top guys from the previous level that are now in pro ball. Everyone throws a little harder, their off-speed stuff is a little better."
Against the Mets, the 22-year-old knocked a ground ball into the shift that was stopped on a dive by second baseman Luis Carpio but went for an infield hit. He started the third with a line drive single to right field against starter Harol Gonzalez and scored on Riley Mahan's base hit, beating the throw from right fielder Ian Strom.
With runners on first and second in the fourth, Miller blooped a first-pitch fastball off the end of the bat into shallow left for a single and loaded the bases for Corey Bird, who delivered an RBI knock.
"I swung at a pitcher's pitch, but it just happened to fall," Miller said.
After grounding into a forceout in the fifth, the North Carolina native knocked another infield single to the right side and swiped second.
Although he was a middle infielder in college, Miller has been used exclusively in the outfield since entering the Marlins system. He's played the lion's share of his games in center field, which is where was stationed Friday.
"There's definitely some tough parts of it, but overall, I just try to simplify it: just see the ball, catch it and throw it right at my cutoff man," Miller said. "I'm always trying to work on the defensive side of my game, of course, but I think the adjustment has been pretty easy."
Jupiter has a competition among its outfielders as the Florida State League steals leader, right fielder Stone Garrett, swiped his sixth of the season. Bird, who played left, is second on the team and in a five-way tie for second in the FSL with five stolen bases.
"It's great to have a really fast outfield. Stone is really improving on the bases, too, and, as you can see, he's had some great results. I'm really happy for him so far," Miller said. "Corey is a great basestealer -- he and I help each other out, bounce ideas off each other a lot. It's good to learn form those guys and it's nice to have speed on the team."
Daniel Castano (3-0) became the FSL's fourth three-game winner after limiting St. Lucie to two runs on four hits with three strikeouts in seven innings. Lukas Schiraldi pitched around a hit in a scoreless ninth for his league-leading third save.