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  • Noah Miller Quietly Proving Prospect Value


    Cody Christie

    Drafting and developing young shortstops can be an exercise in futility. Few can stay at the position long-term, but the Twins may be developing a future star.

    Image courtesy of Fort Myers Mighty Mussels

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    The Twins selected Noah Miller with the 36th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft out of high school in Wisconsin. Minnesota's current front office prefers to draft college bats, but Miller didn't fit that mold. The switch-hitting infielder had all the necessary skills as scouting reports projected praised his offensive and defensive approaches. Now, in his second professional season, some of those positive signs have translated onto the field. 

    A couple of questions surrounded Miller when he was drafted, including his age and skill level coming from a cold-weather state. He was already 19 years old, which is old for a high school player. Miller played his high school career in Wisconsin, which can put players at a disadvantage because the weather can impact their playing time as an amateur. Minnesota has tried to work through these issues since he signed with the organization. 

    During his first two professional seasons, Minnesota has pushed Miller to play at levels where he has been at least two years younger than the average age of the competition. Miller has played the 2022 season in the Florida State League and only faced younger pitchers in 13 at-bats. Against older pitchers, he has a 57-to-40 strikeout to walk ratio as he has gotten on base in nearly 37% of his at-bats. The Twins organization is challenging Miller, and he is responding even though he is young for his level. 

    Because of his cold-weather background, Miller's swing projected to need time to develop as a professional. As a right-handed hitter, he has hit .229/.359/.320 (.679) with nine extra-base hits in 184 plate appearances this year. His left side was more powerful when he was drafted, which has proven to be true this season. In 44 at-bats, his OPS is over 100 points higher from the left side, and two of his 12 hits have been for extra bases. 

    Entering the season, Miller had mixed opinions about his defense, but he started strongly in his first full professional season. FanGraphs graded him on the 80 scouting scale as currently being a 30 with a potential future value of 45. MLB Pipeline has his fielding and his arm graded as a 55. He has started every game at shortstop and has only committed two errors in over 427 innings. Errors can be a fluky way to evaluate prospect talent, but even the Fort Myer's broadcaster has been impressed with the 19-year-old's FSL debut. 

    Everything hasn't gone perfectly for Miller this season, but it's clear to see why the Twins were interested in drafting him. He has excellent bat control and can make consistent contact from both sides of the plate. As he continues to add muscle and fill out his frame, more power will come. There is a decent chance he can stick at shortstop, a position the Twins have struggled to develop in recent years. 

    Miller is multiple years away from making his Target Field debut, but there are positive signs as he continues to thrive in his first full professional season. What stands out to you about Miller? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    Owen Miller, Noah's brother, has progressed quite well for Cleveland. Both of the Miller players acquit them selves in a positive fashion at the plate and in the field. The Twins must feel pretty good about how Noah has done thus far this year. Nice post about Noah Miller.

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    Good article.  I had my doubts when he was selected, but he is making me a believer.  He has hit a bit of a rough spot in his hitting, but that is not unusual for a young hitter experiencing his first full year of professional baseball--it can wear young players down a bit physically.  However, he has never let his defense slide, and he has a great eye at the plate.  I like his future.

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    Yeah, I'm really worried about him because he's from a cold weather state. Many such disadvantaged players could have achieved so much more if only they had been raised in the south.  Players like Joe Mauer, Paul Monitor, Dave Winfield, Kent Hrbek, Jack Morris, Glen Perkins, Dave Goltz come to mind off the top of my head.  Oh, Justin Morneau was from.....Canada!  So I'd say there's a chance, just a small one, that Miller could overcome the odds that the cold-weather gods have stacked against him.

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    I love this kind of review and projection.  He has prospered and that is exciting.  What is the level that is considered the real make or break for players - is is AA?

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    1 hour ago, RJA said:

    Good article.  I had my doubts when he was selected, but he is making me a believer.  He has hit a bit of a rough spot in his hitting, but that is not unusual for a young hitter experiencing his first full year of professional baseball--it can wear young players down a bit physically.  However, he has never let his defense slide, and he has a great eye at the plate.  I like his future.

    I had my doubts as well.  With pretty much average tools across the board it felt like a reach for a Sup 1 round pick.  For his first year I am very impressed with his balanced approach at the plate and defense.  Defense was my greatest concern for Miller sticking at short with an arm graded 55 and speed 50 he didn't have much room for error to be moved off the position.  Still in a very SSS he looked like a big leaguer this spring  and like the OP said errors are not the entire story when it comes to defense but IMO they do tend to predict who can stay at a position long term.  He looks like he can stay there right now.

    Would like to see a bit more contact and harder contact but if he continues to play as he has been, he has to see his first year as a success and worthy of moving up to High A next year.

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    At this point he looks like a utility infielder, a backup shortstop due to lack of hitting.  And honestly, that's the role of most shortstops (who stick) drafted where the Twins took Miller.

    Fort Myers is a notorious pitcher's park, and the FSL is a pitcher's league, so we might excuse him through this year, but if he doesn't put up pretty stats in Cedar Rapids next year, I think we're looking at utility.  Think Jace Peterson.

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    5 hours ago, twinstalker said:

    At this point he looks like a utility infielder, a backup shortstop due to lack of hitting.  And honestly, that's the role of most shortstops (who stick) drafted where the Twins took Miller.

    Fort Myers is a notorious pitcher's park, and the FSL is a pitcher's league, so we might excuse him through this year, but if he doesn't put up pretty stats in Cedar Rapids next year, I think we're looking at utility.  Think Jace Peterson.

    I think you need to take into consideration that he is only 19 at least 2 years younger than most players in that league.  I f you look at last year and what Cavaco and Urbina did he seems far more advanced than both players.  In fact he is hitting better than Cavaco right now and Cavaco is 21.  So if you factor that in I think his bat looks good already.

    He could end up a utility player but I think a lot would have to go wrong for that to happen given his balanced approach at the plate and the fact he will be most likely be young for all levels as he moves up.

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    "A couple of questions surrounded Miller when he was drafted, including his age and skill level coming from a cold-weather state. He was already 19 years old, which is old for a high school player."

    Not to nitpick, but his B-Day is in November.  He didn't turn 19 until Nov. 12th (after the draft). :) 

     

    Born: November 12, 2002 (Age: 19-221d) in Fredonia, WI 

    Draft: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1st round (36th) of the 2021 MLB June Amateur Draft from Ozaukee HS (Fredonia, WI).

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    "Miller played his high school career in Wisconsin, which can put players at a disadvantage because the weather can impact their playing time as an amateur." 

    This reminds me a funny story.  On my son's Official Visit to the school he eventually committed to, his coach joked with us that "if a college coach wants a hitter, you look to the South... if you want and arm, look up North."  Admittedly this would be the polar (no pun intended) opposite of that joke, but this just reminded me of that :).

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    A kid at 19 20 who at A ball can control the strike zone BB to K and has good bat to ball skills is what you want to see.  The power comes later.  Also the very low error amount is also great.  The little tricks and anticipation that comes with playing at SS take a ok fielder to a good fielder or good to great.  Miller has the arm for SS so that’s a great sign. 
     

    He is a kid I DO NOT want to see moved at the deadline

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