Here’s what Jack Zduriencik told me in spring training about Brad Miller, a young shortstop who made a very strong impression in his first major-league camp (and whom you can read about in today’s Mariner minor-league report):
“Brad’s a guy with a good swing. I don’t like to put labels on guys and I won’t in this case, but you could make a comparison to a few years ago, when we looked back after Kyle Seager played in High Desert. He led all the minor leagues in hits. People said, well that’s High Desert. High Desert is a great hitting ballpark. That kind of stuff. All of a sudden next year, boom, he’s in Double-A, Triple-A, then in the big leagues and did a hell of a job last year.
“You look at Brad Miller – a very, very similar parallel. Both are college guys, both out of quality conferences – in fact, the same conference (ACC). Both go into pro ball and in their first full season, Miller is No. 2 in the minors in hits last year, and finished half of his season in Double-A. It doesn’t mean necessarily he’s going to do everything Kyle Seager did, because those things are very difficult to predict, but if you look at Kyle Seager’s track and Brad Miller’s track, you say, ‘Wow, that’s pretty doggone good.’ It’s a good situation.”
And now, more than two months into the 2013 season, the parallels between Seager and Miller are continuing to play out. In fact, so much so that it provides a possible guide to when we might see Miller in the major leagues.
In 2011, his second full pro season, Seager began at Double-A Jackson, where he played 66 games before earning a promotion to Class AAA Tacoma. In those 66 games, Seager hit .312 (83-for-266) with 33 runs, 25 doubles, four homers, 37 RBIs, 26 walks, 38 strikeouts, a .381 OBP and .459 slugging.
Miller, in his second full pro season, also started out this year in Jackson, where he played 42 games before earning a promotion to Tacoma. In those 42 games, he hit .294 (45-for-153) with 27 runs, seven doubles, six homers, 25 RBIs, 20 walks, 30 strikeouts, a .379 OBP and .471 slugging. Seager had an .840 OPS, while Miller’s was .850.
In 2011, Seager got the call from Tacoma to Seattle on July 6, was optioned back to Tacoma on July 21 (after hitting .136, 3-for-22, in seven games with the M’s), then came back up to Seattle for good on Aug. 2. In his second stint, he hit .275 in 46 games, and now he’s a fixture at third base for the Mariners.
Seager was 23 that year, the same age Miller is now. Both are left-handed hitters. There are some differences. Seager stayed longer at Double-A, and had played just 12 games at Tacoma when he got his first call to the majors, hitting .455 in those Rainiers games with a .500 OBP and 1.173 OPS. But if you look at Seager’s cumulative numbers at Tacoma in 2011 — .387 in 24 games, three homers, 17 RBIs, .444 OBP and .585 slugging — they approximate Miller’s current 16-game totals with the Rainiers: .353 average, three homers, 20 RBIs, .423 OBP, .544 slugging.
I’m not predicting when Miller is going to come up, but Seager’s early July promotion in 2011 could be a guidepost. There are other circumstances to keep in mind, like Miller’s readiness to play shortstop in the majors (he’s got six errors already in 16 games), and the fact the Mariners already have a shortstop in Brendan Ryan (a possible candidate to be dealt at the deadline). The Mariners in 2011 were headed for 95 losses and eager to start looking at the future. A Mariners team that has already called up Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino — and is currently on pace for 91 losses even after two wins over Houston — may well head full-steam in that same direction.
Here is a look at the minor-league statistics of first Seager and then Miller, so you can see the similarities at the same stages of their careers. The similarities between their first full pro seasons — 2010 for Seager, 2012 for Miller — are uncanny (a one-point difference in OPS), and even more impressive for Miller because he didn’t do it all in High Desert. Considering the fact that Seager is one of the few position-player success stories for the Mariners, it’s an encouraging comparable.
Kyle Seager (third-round draft pick out of North Carolina in 2009):
Brad Miller (second-round pick out of Clemson in 2011):