Jai Miller has been around a long, long time. Drafted in the 4th round of the 2003 draft, he’s entering his 8th year with the organization. Things weren’t pretty early on, but he has done a lot better the past few years and is trying to claim a future back up OF role on the team. With only one option remaining, time is running out for him to do so.
As I said, things were atrocious at the start of his pro career. In his first 4 seasons, he would put up a combined .209/.293/.309/.602 park adjusted line. Things really bottomed out while playing with Jupiter in 2006, as he would finish the season without hitting a single home run.
Things got better as he went to Carolina in 2007. His hitting for average improved as well as his power numbers. Unfortunately, his biggest offensive problem was still around: strikeouts. He has yet to finish a season with under 100 strike outs. Considering his improvement, we should focus on what he has done since 2007 rather than his career as a whole:
You have to love the power numbers, but his strike outs still really hurt him a lot. And while his slash line from last year was extremely pretty, a lot of that was powered by his .377 BABIP.
A thing to remember also is that the past two years he has played in the PCL. Those numbers are only park adjusted. If we league adjust his years in the PCL, his power numbers drop from a combined 24 HR/150 and .208 ISO to 22 HR/150 and .194 ISO. Not the biggest of drops but still a drop.
Going forward, things look pretty bleak. Jai is a poor defensive CFer, meaning his future his in a corner OF spot. And those strike outs just hamper him way, way too much.
That number just does not compare at all to that of Bryan Petersen and Scott Cousins, who are more likely the future back up OF core. While he does most everything else well, none of it makes up for his massive strike out total. CHONE calls for an identical .313 wOBA, though it has him at a higher BABIP and lower power numbers.
Even if he’s able to push those power numbers up to the .200 ISO range, he’s still not starting material, he’s just a better bench player. At 25 years of age, his contact issue likely isn’t going away. That puts his ceiling at not even a starting OFer.
So how does that make Jai an intriguing prospect? Well, he himself is not intriguing, but the situation he was in is. This past offseason, the Marlins had one spot on their 40 man for three OFers: Jai Miller, John Raynor, and Alejandro De Aza. They chose to keep Miller. Was that the right move? I’ll be looking at that in a future post.