Every year in the MLB Draft, comparisons are thrown around for college and high school prospects, most of them way over the top. He's the next Barry Bonds. He's the next Derek Jeter. He's the next Chipper Jones. He's the next Pedro Martinez.
When the Giants drafted Jalen Miller in the third round of the 2015 MLB Draft, the high school middle infielder from Georgia was often compared to a three-time All-Star who started out as a prepster middle infielder from the Peach State -- Brandon Phillips. While Phillips isn't a future Hall of Famer, he was a speedy second baseman with power and a golden glove, four Gold Gloves to be exact.
Miller started off his professional career at 19 years old and immediately showed his speed and athleticism. The bat, however, was way behind any Phillips comparisons. In his first three seasons, Miller batted .218, .223, .227 with a combined 11 home runs. Now in his fourth season as a pro, and his second with the San Jose Giants, Miller is enjoying his breakout year before our eyes.
At the All-Star break, Miller ranked seventh in the California League in batting average (.305), second in hits (81), and sixth in doubles (18). To open up the second half, Miller balsted his eighth home run of the year, the exact amound he hit in the California League Home Run Derby, and already two more than his previous career high of six. During his second stint in San Jose, Miller has made strides at the plate with his power and overall consistency.
Aside from hitting for a low average his first three seasons, Miller also struggled reaching base. Not once in those first three seasons did Miller have an on-base percentage of .300 or higher. And from 2015-17, he struck out 249 to 74 walks. Miller has a .345 on-base percentage to go with his .303 batting average and .472 batting average in 65 games. All three parts of his slash line are career highs by a long shot. Though the 21-year-old still has a ways to go with his patience (61 walks to 15 walks this year), Miller has vastly improved his overall approach and pitch recognition.
Just as he has become more consistent on offense, Miller has improved his consistency with his glove as well. Drafted as a shortstop, the 5-foot-11 Miller has solely played second base this season. His .965 fielding percentage is a career high and he has turned 45 doubles plays so far.
Comparisons, just like the draft itself, is a two-eyes-closed leap of faith. Miller and Phillips, both high school prospects from the same state, were both drafted as athletic shortstops full of upside who transitioned to second base, with Phillips going one round higher. For Miller, the results are coming later than Phillips, and that's just fine as the Giants' No. 29 prospect gets closer to his Georgia counterpart.