Is Owen Miller The Answer For Cleveland’s Lineup?
As a whole, the Indians are in decent shape leading up to Memorial Day, entering the weekend with a 23-18 and in second place in the AL Central. However, their team offense as a whole has left a lot to be desired, as the Tribe are hitting just .213 as a team, tied for the second-worst team average in baseball.
However, hope may be on the way in the form of Owen Miller. Miller is currently tearing the cover off of the ball for Triple-A Columbus and could be up with the big club very soon.
Here’s a little bit about Miller, as well as how he could help the Indians upon arrival.’
Drafted in the third round by the Padres in 2018, Miller was one of the six players shipped to Cleveland in last season’s Mike Clevinger deal. Before the deal, he had displayed a solid approach at the plate, hitting .336 across two Single-A levels in 2018 and .290 with 13 home runs in Double-A in 2019. However, he and nearly every other prospect missed out on a 2020 season.
Entering 2021, Miller was not one of Cleveland’s top prospects, unlike fellow infielder Nolan Jones. In fact, MLB.com had Miller as the team’s 16th best prospect going into the season.
But after just 14 games of Triple-A action, the 24-year old Miller is overdelivering on everyone’s expectations. Through May 20th, the infielder is hitting a sizzling .455 to go with a .508 OBP and .691 slugging. Eight of his 25 hits have gone for extra bases, while he recently put together a stretch of four multi-hit games over five days.
Where Does He Fit?
In addition to his bat, something the Indians clearly could use, Miller’s positional versatility is incredibly helpful as well. The utility man has already spent five games each at second base and shortstop, two games at third base, and one game starting at first base.
Although shortstops Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario haven’t been huge help offensively, it’s hard to see both of them get their playing time reduced for Miller. Of course, Cesar Hernandez and Jose Ramirez have second and third base locked up, respectively.
That leaves the first base, and Miller looks like he’d be a huge upgrade there. Right now, Cleveland has used the platoon of Jake Bauers and Yu Chang to handle first base duties. Bauers has received a bulk of the chances but is hitting just .203 with a .613 OPS, while Chang has hit a dismal .127 with a .333 OPS.
On paper, Cleveland would get a nice upgrade with calling up the righty Miller to platoon with Bauers, while Chang gets demoted to Columbus. His positional versatility would also allow him to play all over the infield in case any of the other starters needed a day off.
In summary, Indians fans probably can’t expect a prospect like Miller to come up and save a struggling offense, especially with only 14 Triple-A games under his belt. But the hit tool is clearly there, and it’s clear that he would be an upgrade over some of the players the Tribe are putting into their lineup now.
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