|Happy Birthday Matt!|
Position, 2006 Team: OF, Modesto/Colo. Springs/Tulsa (milb profile page)
HT: 6'2"WT: 210 lbs.
2004 Stats (Tri-City): 43 GM, 167 AB, .267/.337/.461, 17 R, 45 H, 8 2B, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 13 BB, 18 K, 0/0 SB/CS
2005 Stats (Asheville): 127 GM, 508 AB, .331/.375/.575, 79 R, 168 H, 34 2B, 30 HR, 26 BB, 71 K, 9/8 SB/CS
2006 Stats (Cumulative) 127 GM, 475 AB, .307/.372/.446, 68 R, 146 H, 21 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 87 RBI, 45/56 K/BB, 5/11 SB/CS
Bio: Matt was drafted in 2004 in the thirteenth round out of Texas State University, one of a few later round finds by recently departed area scout Jeff Edwards (2006 ninth rounder Will Harris would be another). Miller went to La Grange High School in Texas, the same school as Reds top prospect Homer Bailey, but despite this Matt was largely unnoticed by pro scouts and division one programs and ended up at Temple Junior College - making the team as a walk-on . At Temple, he made a major impression his sophomore year by hitting 21 homeruns, and Texas State coach Ty Harrrington offered him a spot on his team in San Marcos. There, Miller continued to shine and finally earned the attention of pro scouts. The Rockies lured him out of his senior season with a $30,000 sign-on bonus. In the summer of 2004, he quickly established himself as a legitimate minor league hitter by posting an impressive first season in Tri-City, including eight homers in a difficult longball environment.
His first full professional season in Asheville in 2005 was where Miller really started to stand out, however. With the Tourists, Miller would have 64 extra base hits and 100 RBI on his way to earning the South Atlantic League's Trautman (MVP) Award. This past season in Modesto and Tulsa, however, he lost roughly fifty percent of those extra base hits from 2005 and thereby failed to answer questions on the legitimacy of his power potential coming out of hitter friendly McCormick Field in the same way Joe Koshansky did. Because of this, and because Miller is best suited to playing a position associated with power production (left field,) for the moment he remains just on the periphery of top prospect status despite continuing to put up strong numbers in the batter's box. Tulsa in particular was unkind to Matt, as struggling to break into the everyday lineup of a crowded situation, he also struggled to put up the same numbers he had put up in Modesto and Asheville. He rebounded somewhat with a strong campaign in the Arizona Fall League, but again, hitting well in a notoriously rich hitting environment is going to do little to dissuade doubters of his potential.
One knock you will see frequently associated with Miller is that he's been "old" for his leagues, but one reason I look past this is that he's not been overwhelmed by the top pitching prospects (or older or rehabbing pitchers for that matter) of the classifications he's been in. The experience in Tulsa shows that he'll have to readjust to hitting breaking balls after feasting on fastballs in the lower levels. The good news is that he seems capable of making said adjustments and by the end of the season, and in the AFL, I think we could see some of the results of that. Next season will be a big test for Matt, as he'll need to prove himself worthy of a spot on the Rockies forty man roster or risk being lost in the Rule 5 draft. He has proven himself a terrible baserunner. I don't know if I would ever give him the green light with that atrocious 42% success rate.
Projection, Majors ETA: Matt's made a big impression at every stop along the way in the minors with his bat, and only has to make a few more steps to prove himself ready for MLB action. A 2007 call-up is certainly in the realm of possibility, but there are so many other corners in the system right now that are equally or more ready (Seth Smith and Joe Gaetti in the outfield, Ian Stewart and Joe Koshansky in the infield, Christian Colonel in either) that I don't know how Miller fits in there without yet another exceptional season. His task for 2007 has to be to overtake a couple of the guys ahead of him right now on the depth chart. He could be an everyday outfielder for many clubs, but he seems to lack the big league power of Hawpe, Baker and Holliday, or perhaps even that of Seth Smith. For the Rockies, therefore, he seems to be fighting for a fourth outfielder spot or better exposure for a trade to another team. Despite me not putting him in my top 30, he's a player I'm always rooting for as he's proven the pundits wrong all along the way and he could very well do so now that he's in the upper minors. I'm not going to be the one to bet against him.
Matt's Baseball Cube Page, pt. 2(they got him confused with another Matt Miller, his Modesto and Colorado Springs stats are here)