Third round draft pick Owen Miller could prove to be a real steal for the San Diego Padres in this year’s draft.
It has been a little over a week since the San Diego Padres decided to take a chance on a shortstop from Illinois State in the 2018 MLB Draft. 21-year-old Owen Miller is now officially a member of the Padres’ organization.
The team officially signed 19 of their draftees on Tuesday, headlined by Miller and a host of other very talented athletes. Out of all of the signees, Miller may prove to be the most successful when all is said and done.
Born in Mequon, Wisconsin, Miller played at Illinois State for three seasons as the team’s starting shortstop and three-hole hitter. He succeeded current St. Louis Cardinals’ shortstop Paul DeJong upon his arrival in 2016 and proceeded to slash .328/.368/.498 as a freshman. Miller showed offensive improvement across each of his three years as a Redbird as he was able to dramatically cut down his strikeout numbers as the years passed, striking out 50 times his freshman year compared to only 23 times as a junior.
Seen as merely a “solid” bat going into his junior year, Miller was able to raise his stock in a big way as he slashed .384/.433/.537 while hitting six home runs and 15 doubles, good for a .970 OPS. His .384 batting average was good for 2nd in the Missouri Valley Conference while his .433 OBP placed him 7th on the conference’s leaderboards. His junior season was also a historic one as he broke Illinois State’s record for hits in a season, ultimately ending up with 88 hits, which was third-best in his conference. Miller’s junior year exploits earned him a First Team All-Conference nod, as he became only the 46th Redbird to earn such honors.
Owen Miller never missed an inning of any game played from his freshman to his junior season, showing off great durability at a premium position on the diamond. When his college career came to an end, he had slashed a combined .345/.384/.511 with a .895 OPS over 713 total at-bats. He also totaled 57 doubles, 17 home runs, and 16 stolen bases over the course of his college career.
Miller does a little bit of everything as he is an above-average athlete who is only held back by his lack of one true elite tool. Instead, he possesses average-above average tools across the board, which could lead to a quick rise through the Padres’ system as he also exercises a mature approach at the plate and above-average instincts on the field. Miller is also adept at using the whole field to his advantage, as can be seen in the video from May 13th, when the young man hit for the cycle against Valparaiso University.
In some ways, Miller is the antithesis to what A.J. Preller’s front office has targeted as far as middle infield prospects go as the current regime seems to favor highly athletic boom-or-bust types who have yet to tap into their own raw potential. Miller is much more of a finished product and more of a high-floor player rather than a high-ceiling player who still needs seasoning. He could potentially be a fast mover within the Padres’ farm system if he is able to continue to make adjustments as he faces higher-level pitching. Whether he sticks at short or not isn’t all too important as his bat is what will eventually carry him to the big leagues someday.