The Tar Heels have seen right-hander J.B. Bukauskas and shortstop Logan Warmoth already get drafted in the first round. Now outfielder Brian Miller has been taken in the competitive balance round A at 36th overall by the Miami Marlins. Miller is a true testament to speedy, athletic players everywhere who might not be highly regarded initially, but who ultimately prove their value through shear force of will.
He began his college career as a recruited walk-on at UNC Asheville. After North Carolina lost most of their 2014 recruiting class to the draft, the Tar Heels found Miller and brought him to Chapel Hill. His plus speed gave him additional playing time in the outfield, culminating in him becoming the team’s starting center fielder and leadoff hitter. His athleticism, excellent glove work, speed, and ability to make contact boosted him to a second round player.
In his junior season at North Carolina, Miller proved to be an excellent table setter at the top of the lineup, hitting .343/.422/.502 in 63 games and stealing 24 bases. He managed to hit a career-high seven home runs this year, however, his limited power potential could end up hurting his chances at becoming an MLB regular. Still, his value in the field and on the base paths should propel him through the minors over the next few seasons.
The Marlins obviously like his defense in center field, and he will perform well in the large expanses of Marlins Park. If things work out right for Miller and the team, he could end up complimenting guys like Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton, who are really the heart and sole of the Marlins right now.
Glove-first players don’t normally make big money, but Brian Miller’s draft position could earn him as much as 1,888,800 based on his slot value. Good for him!