Unable to stomach Brendan Ryan and his .230 wOBA as the team’s primary shortstop any longer, the Seattle Mariners have reportedly called up 23-year-old Brad Miller in an attempt to breathe some life into a below-average offense that currently ranks 23rd in the league with a .299 wOBA.
His defensive skills remain a question mark, but Miller has always hit throughout his professional career. In 118 plate appearances in Triple-A this year, he’s hitting .350/.424/.570 with five doubles, a triple and five home runs. His ISO is an impressive .220, and he’s already eclipsed the double-digit mark in home runs between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma.
His approach at the plate has always been solid, as well. He has posted a walk rate above 11.0% in each of his previous two seasons, and he has never struck out more than 17.1% of the time. That combination of skills should bode well for his batting average and on-base percentage at the big-league level, which makes him a rare shortstop who’s valuable in leagues who have eschewed batting average for OBP.
At this point in the fantasy season, Miller projects to offer intriguing power potential at shortstop and should have no trouble posting above-average rate statistics. Our own Mike Newman noted this spring that Miller has the prototypical skill set to thrive in the two-hole of a batting order. He did steal 23 bases last season; however, I’m not comfortable projecting double-digit stolen bases throughout the remainder of the year. After all, this year, he’s only swiped six bags in 67 minor-league games. In upcoming seasons, though, he could easily threaten double digits.
Miller’s promotion could serve as a light at the end of the tunnel for some fantasy owners, as the shortstop position has experienced a dearth of talent this year. I mean, uninspiring players such as Alexei Ramirez and Elvis Andrus currently rank in the top-ten fantasy shortstops this season, and two of the top producers — Everth Cabrera and Troy Tulowitzki — remain on the disabled list. Few options are worth getting excited about.
So, in a sense, that’s what makes the Brad Miller call-up so interesting for fantasy purposes. He might struggle defensively, but he’s always shown that he can hit — and even hit for a little power, though playing in Safeco Field may slightly subdue the home run totals. A shortstop with those skills at the plate will be a hot commodity in both shallow and deeper leagues.
Considering someone like Jordy Mercer has suddenly become a semi-desirable fantasy shortstop for those owners who are desperate for an upgrade, Brad Miller should be swiped from your league’s waiver wire by the end of the day — if he hasn’t been already. If he’s available, though, and you’re searching for batting average and a modicum of power at shortstop, Miller could be a nice midseason upgrade without having to go through the pains of orchestrating a trade.
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