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PCL notes: Miller catching up to Triple-A

Rainiers outfielder adjusting to Minors' top level after banner 2017
Ian Miller has 202 stolen bases in 246 attempts over 562 Minor League games dating to 2013. (Jeff Halstead/Tacoma Rainiers)
August 21, 2018

Ian Miller is nothing if not persistent.On his third crack at Double-A, the Seattle Mariners' No. 20 prospect mastered the level, posting a banner 2017 campaign and earning a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma late last July.Things have not been easy since moving up to join the Rainiers, but as always,

Ian Miller is nothing if not persistent.
On his third crack at Double-A, the Seattle Mariners' No. 20 prospect mastered the level, posting a banner 2017 campaign and earning a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma late last July.
Things have not been easy since moving up to join the Rainiers, but as always, the fleet-footed outfielder has kept plugging away to advance his dream of reaching the big leagues.

"When the opportunity comes, you have to be ready," Miller said. "Coming into this year, I was ready to play all 140 games at Tacoma and not go anywhere else. That was the mindset I had to put in my head. If I don't go up at all to run or hit or anything, it's not going to be a total loss on the season."
Miller has hit .272/.348/.345 with two home runs, 41 RBIs and 27 stolen bases in 101 games. The numbers are good, but not where Miller would like them to be -- largely because of the challenge of facing veteran pitchers in the Pacific Coast League.
"It's a lot more off-speed [pitches], man," he said. "The pitchers have a good plan, if they can go to it. They know your weaknesses. [There are] a lot more scouting reports up here."
That increase in available data has been another adjustment for Miller at the highest level of the Minors.
"There is a lot for pitchers, there's a lot from coaches, there's a lot from managers," he said. "As position players we try to get where [opposing batters'] tendencies are, where to line up in the outfield, where they go in which counts, the probability of them going the other way.
"I've heard it's even crazier at the big league level."

Miller has not been quite as successful on the basepaths as prior seasons. He is 27-for-36 this year on steal attempts after going 43-for-48 last season.
"They do a good job here of keeping an eye on me, shutting down the running game," he said. "Unfortunately, I haven't been playing as much. There's so many talented guys here. I'm just trying not to do too much, not force it. If it's there, take it. A lot of times, it's not there."
Miller has also alternated among all three outfield slots after primarily playing center field until last season.
"I enjoy getting the opportunity to play [anywhere in] the outfield," he said. "That's what that is, getting the opportunity to play better every day."

A 14th-round Draft pick out of Wagner College in 2013, Miller has already defied the odds to get to Triple-A. Changing his approach and improving his preparation led to the breakout at Arkansas in 2017, when he hit .326/.382/.430 in 83 games.
"It was more mental," Miller said. "[On the physical side], I spend every offseason in Arizona working at the Spring Training complex, really refining my approach a little bit."
Miller said the excitement of having the Mariners in a playoff chase has trickled down to the Rainiers.
"There's a lot of guys cheering on the team," he said. "I don't know what the percentage is, but I imagine 50 to 75 percent have been up there [in Seattle] either this year or last year at some point. It matters what they do up there, and we try to feed off it."

In brief


Paterson makes his mark: Isotopes first baseman/outfielder Jordan Patterson slugged his 21st home run of the season back on Aug. 7, which was also his 61st with the club, surpassing Jason Wood to set a new franchise record. The Rockies' No. 16 prospect has hit .275/.374/.526 with 22 homers and 67 RBIs in his third season in Albuquerque.
Batting crown races: A number of hitting categories remain up for grabs in the last days of the season. Oklahoma City's Alex Verdugo (.335) tops the batting average race over Albuquerque's Mike Tauchman (.332), while the home run race could go any direction -- with co-leaders Jabari Blash and Tyler O'Neill (both at 26) in the Majors -- opening the door for Fresno's AJ Reed (25) and Las Vegas' Zach Borenstein (24).
Pitching races: Memphis' Dakota Hudson led the league in wins (13) and ERA (2.50) before the Cardinals called him up, and the odds are against Omaha's Trevor Oaks (2.81) catching him in ERA. Reno's Taylor Clarke needs just one more win to match Hudson. In strikeouts, it's hard to see Fresno's Josh James (128) catching Las Vegas' Drew Gagnon (152).

Chris Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com.