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Don’t overlook Seattle Mariners swiper Ian Miller

Ultra-fast Mariners prospect talks with Minor League Ball’s Steven Van Worth

Steven Van Worth, SB Nation/Vox Media

The ball is hit down the third base line and fielded, but the throw is a hair too late. Big mistake on the defense’s part; every pitch now is a gamble putting the other bases in jeopardy. The first sense of the wind up and he’s gone, the catcher tosses the ball as fast as he can, and to nobody’s surprise Ian Miller is already there.

Some are drafted for their bat, some are drafted for their glove, then there are those who are drafted for their shear ability to swipe bases. Those that get on base and wreak havoc on defenses. Seattle found that guy playing for Wagner College in 2013 and he’s been stealing bags ever since.

Ian Miller, a standout at Wagner College was one of, if not the fastest player in the Northeast. In three years as a Seahawk, Miller had stolen 93 bases, 46 of them in 2013 breaking the conference record of 42.

Ian finished his junior year with a team-best .329 with 11 multi-stolen base games while recording a 16-game hitting streak. Named All-NEC Second Team in 2012 and All-NEC First Team in 2013, the fleet footed Miller was the fourth highest draft pick in school history.

Drafted in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners, Ian Miller is probably one of the most underrated players in the minor leagues. Compiling over 140 stolen bases since the start of his short minor league career, Ian swiped 49 out of 52 bases (50 out of 53 including post-season) last season in Jackson ranking second in the Southern League.

With a 94.3% stolen base success rate in 2016, the highest in the MiLB, Miller is not a player any defense wants on base.

When Minor League Ball spoke with Ian about his success rate last season he stated, “Last season I focused on being a “runner” first. Focused on walks and strike outs, trying to have more walks than the other. I think I had pretty good success with that. It’s just about getting on base.”

The same year, Ian helped the Jackson Generals win the 2016 Southern League Championship, hitting .300/.364/.400 in the championship series. As impressive as he was in 2016, there still was no invite to the big-league spring training camp.

Not feeling discouraged, the speedy outfielder said, “I’m just going to keep grinding until somebody notices, they will eventually.”

Cutting his off-season short, spending only a couple weeks with family and friends Ian flew to Arizona wanting to approach the new season differently.

“This is my third year in Double-A, so I’ve decided to work on my bat. I arrived in Arizona and started working out every day with Brant Brown, our hitting coordinator. I spent every day with him, he even re-invented my swing. Then we took what we worked on and brought it to Arkansas. Roy Howell who is my hitting coach here works with me every day on those same things that I worked on this off-season.”

The 2017 baseball season is underway, Miller has landed once again in Double-A with the Arkansas Travelers (the Mariners’ new Double-A team) and the new and improved swing has helped the 25-year-old tremendously.

Miller is batting an incredible .343/.377/.461 compared to .253/.331/.305 last season in Jackson and has hit a total of seven doubles this year alone, only one away from last season’s total. Before the double-header in Tulsa Miller was on a six-game hitting streak and has gone hitless in only six games this season so far.

Having a new bat hasn’t slowed down this swiper at all, Miller has only been caught twice in 14 attempts this season. Stealing every base he can on his way to Seattle, showing everyone who he is, and what he can do when he gets on base.

The season is still young with a lot of games left, so defenses beware, you don’t want this future Mariner on base.