One half of the Augusta GreenJackets' prospect-laden middle infield tandem is Georgia high school product Jalen Miller. Hailing from Riverwood High School in the suburbs of Atlanta, Miller was the Giants' third-round selection in 2015, and their first non-college player picked. Toward the end of minor league spring training, prepping for his first full season, Miller sat down with Giant Potential a few days after he hit his first professional home run, and just moments before I spoke with first-round pick Phil Bickford. Miller talked about Georgia heat vs. Arizona heat, loving defense, and thoughts moving into next season.
GP: Tell me about your first year in pro ball with the AZL team.
"It was nice, it was just hot out here when I got out. It was a learning experience, especially learning how hot it was, learning how many reps to take to not overwork yourself because I know I definitely did that. I got tired near the middle of the season. I started out hot, but kind of declined. It was fun. It was a really good experience."
GP: You know a different kind of heat in Georgia. Do you like one better over the other?
"I guess I like the Atlanta heat better because I’m used to it. I came here, and as soon as I got out of the airport through the sliding doors, it was like I just walked into an oven. I walked outside and was like, “I’ve got to play in this all summer?” But it was just one of those things you have to get used to, especially staying hydrated out here. That was really big. The coaches helped us with that a lot. They have charts that help us with hydration and they give us heat guard pills and they’re always handing us water."
GP: I saw your home run the other day at Salt River. How’d that feel?
"That was my first professional home run, so hopefully there’s a lot more."
GP: What is your main skill set that you pride yourself in?
"I pride myself in my defense because I really like playing defense. But going through the season and in instructs everyone thinks my bat is ahead of my glove and I'm totally fine with that. It’s just one of those things where you don’t want to focus on one thing more than the other. I just want to stay level-headed, especially hitting. You’re going to get hot and you’re going to get cold so basically once you get hot, you want to try and keep that as long as you can. And I think I can bring that to the table, just the consistency of hitting. In fielding, I feel that it’s always going to be there. It’s my favorite thing to do when I’m out there."
GP: In terms of hitting, what’s your style? What’s your mindset at the plate?
"I feel like I’m more of a contact guy, especially at the professional level. Last year in high school everyone considered me to have power but that was high school ball. Out here it’s totally different. Here it’s a different type of power. Having quick hands, that definitely contributes to the power a little bit, but I’m definitely contact."
GP: How has the quick transition from high school to pro been for you?
"It’s been good because baseball in Georgia, they basically breed us and prepare us for the next level. So we’re playing all summer. We start playing in February when the high school season starts and you don’t stop until November because you play all summer. High school ends and summer begins, and so we’ve been going through that cycle ever since we were about 13. So I’d say it was a pretty easy transition."
GP: Buster Posey, like you, was a high school phenom from your home state of Georgia. Have you gotten a chance to talk to him yet?
"Not personally, but he did come speak to us at November camp. He was just telling us about his minor league experience, even though it was short, and what it takes to stay in the big leagues. They say it’s hard to get to the big leagues, but it’s even harder to stay there. So he was telling us about work ethic and what it took. It was really good."
GP: Goals for first full season?
"One of my main goals is to just stay consistent and if I do get on a hot streak, to stay level-headed and not get too full of myself. And stick to my routine that I have right now and basically just stay with that, and of course stay healthy. That’s always a big one."
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