Results tagged ‘ Jai Miller ’
That was an impressive 2012, wasn’t it?
The Orioles purchased Jai Miller in the 2011-2012 offseason, and put him on the 40-man roster. That move made some sense, because Miller had hit .276/.368/.588 in the Pacific Coast League in 2011, spiked by 32 home runs. Miller didn’t make the Orioles’ roster out of spring training and was sent to Norfolk. With Norfolk, he did hit 8 home runs in 211 plate appearances; two of which were among the most impressive home runs I’ve ever seen at Harbor Park. Unfortunately for Miller, he hit just .196/.308/.397; when he was sent down to AA Bowie, he wasn’t any better. For the season as a whole, he struck out 159 times in just 364 plate appearances, so he struck out in 43.6% of his plate appearances.
To put that in perspective, when Mark Reynolds struck out 221 times (in the major leagues) in 2009, he struck out in only 33.6% of his plate appearances. Last season, Brett Jackson was widely condemned for his strikeouts in his major-league time, to the extent that the Cubs are reworking his swing; he struck out in 41.5% of his plate appearances. Even Glenallen Hill, when he hit .210 and struck out 211 times for A-level Kinston in 1985, only struck out in 39.6% of his plate appearances.
In fairness to Miller, Harbor Park may have been the worst park in all of AAA for him. The nighttime visibility there is not particularly good, and the dimensions and altitude encourage an all-or-nothing plate approach. It’s not surprising Miller struck out a lot; I don’t think anyone expected him to strike out that much.
Miller has apparently given up baseball. He’s enrolled in the University of Alabama, where he will try to play football as a defensive back for the Crimson Tide.
Any cheap-shot comment?
Sure. I have a hard time believing Jai Miller will succeed has a defensive back, because as a defensive back he has to hit.
There’s really no point in trying to sugarcoat it — last night’s Tides loss to Indianapolis wasn’t a very fun game to watch. Neither starting pitcher — Daniel Cabrera for Indianapolis and Chris Tillman for the Tides — were effective, and neither offense could deliver the big hits to put the game away. There were lots of baserunners, which led to the pitchers’ slowing the game down with looks at the bases and pickoff attempts.
The game was also sloppy, as the teams combined for five errors. One was an error only in the most technical of senses — a throw from the outfield bounced off the catcher, allowing a runner to move up from first to second. While the decision was correct, a less scrupulous official scorer could easily have justified a simple decision that the runner advanced on the throw. But the other four errors included a really wild throw, two missed catches of throws, and a misplay of a routine ground ball.
Despite the general lack of entertainment value, there were still a few things I’m glad that I saw:
- The Tides did make the bottom of the ninth inning exciting, helped by one of the missed catch errors. Trailing 6-3, Bill Hall singled. Ryan Adams hit what should have been a game-ending double-play grounder to second, but the shortstop failed to keep the throw in his glove. After a steal of third and a sacrifice fly, Jai Miller hit a drive to the left-center field fence that might have gone for a home run had it been pulled a hair more. But ex-Tide Jake Fox made a leaping grab of Xavier Avery’s chopper and beat him to first for the game-ending out.
- Miller hit one of the most impressive home runs I’ve ever seen a right-handed batter hit in Harbor Park. In the fourth inning, he drove a ball to the back of the left-field picnic area, a good 400 feet from home plate. But the picnic area is probably elevated 20 or 25 feet above the ground at that point, so the ball would have traveled further had the area behind the left-field fence been level ground.
- It’s always fun to see ex-Tide Jose Diaz – listed at 315 pounds on the roster — pitch. He pitched the eighth inning for Indianapolis and retired the side in order.
- Stuart Pomeranz made his second appearance for the Tides. In his first appearance, he struck out the side. In this appearance, he wasn’t quite as good — he pitched 2 2/3 innings, walked one, and only struck out 6. One of the other two batters fouled out, so of the 12 batters Pomeranz has faced, one has hit the ball in fair territory.
Should he be a major-leaguer? Can he be a regular?
I thought last season that Angle would be an excellent fourth or fifth outfielder and had a chance to be a regular outfielder, like Brett Gardner. While I underrated Gardner in that analysis — Gardner was and is a better player than Angle — I still think Angle is a major-league player.
First, the positives. Angle is an outstanding defensive center fielder, perhaps not quite as spectacular as Torii Hunter or as physical as Andruw Jones, but outstanding nevertheless. He has plus-plus speed, a knack for judging fly balls and running good routes. He also has an above-average throwing arm that plays better because he’s very accurate. In fact, although some of my colleagues might think it impossible, Angle may be an overall better center fielder than Denard Span, who was certainly the most spectacular center fielder I’ve seen in my six seasons of datacasting and had always been considered the best. Offensively, Angle has good strike-zone judgement and is an outstanding base-stealer (minor league career totals — 169 stolen bases in 205 attempts.)
Also, his performance last year told me a lot about Angle’s makeup. He got off to a terrible start. While many AAA players who get off to terrible starts end up with truly terrible years, Angle rebounded to have a solid season not far out of line with his career performance. He didn’t press, nor try to do too much, nor let his offensive struggles affect his defense.
The negative, and it’s a big negative, is that Angle doesn’t hit for any power at all — a career (slugging percentage – batting average) of .066 (Brett Gardner’s minor-league value was .094). Generally, the concern with a player with so little power is that he’s a weakling and pitchers will throw strikes, knowing he can’t hurt him. And, in general, the concern is valid. I think Angle may be an exception. He has a flat swing, so he does hit the ball hard but without much loft. Angle does draw an adequate number of walks, so he’s not a Joey Gathright against whom pitchers groove pitches.
Angle’s not going to be a superstar. On the right team — a team with an above-average offense but a below-average defense on which Angle could hit ninth (with the DH) or eighth (without the DH) — I’d be happy to plug Angle into center field.
So why did the Orioles expose Angle to waivers, where the Dodgers claimed him?
I’m not going to discuss the merits of signing Luis Ayala here, nor am I going to lambaste the Orioles front office. I think the Orioles exposed Angle for several reasons. First, the Orioles are the wrong team for Angle. They have an outstanding defensive center fielder in Adam Jones. While their offense is better than it was when Cesar Izturis and Josh Bell occupied the ninth and eighth spots, it’s still not a good offense. But more importantly, the Orioles are still — again? — in the initial phases of their development. As I see it, when they signed Ayala, the Orioles had to choose between Angle and Jai Miller for the roster spot. While I think Angle is better than Miller, I also think that Miller has a much better chance of becoming a very good player (mainly because Angle doesn’t have any chance of developing much beyond the adequate-regular class.) So, since the Orioles are so far away from being good, it might make sense to hope that Miller lives up to his potential and allow Angle to go elsewhere. As I said, I would have kept Angle, but I can see the case for keeping Miller.