The Seattle Mariners have made it well-known that they are trying to win ballgames this season.
During this off-season the team spent a lot of money bringing in free agents like Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Fernando Rodney, but one of their in-house guys could make some noise in the Great Northwest.
Mariners’ shortstop Brad Miller may be overshadowed by his higher-profile double-play partner, but he is a “sleeper” to target in this year’s fantasy baseball drafts.
» Brad Miller, SS (current ADP: #223):
The Mariners opened last season with a lot of question marks in their middle infield.
Ackley continued to have yet another disappointing season (and was later moved to the outfield), and Ryan, for all his defensive prowess, couldn’t hit a lick.
The team had Brad Miller and Nick Franklin waiting in the wings, and their call-ups couldn’t come soon enough for the struggling M’s.
Miller didn’t exactly set the world on fire last season, but he showed some consistency and a nice range of offensive tools that could prove very useful to fantasy owners looking to save some money in their drafts.
For the season, Miller hit .265/.318/.418 with 8 HR, 36 RBI, 41 R, and 5 SB, but it was his last 15 games where he really picked it up.
During that final stretch, the 24-year-old batted .303 (17-for-56) with 3 HR, 6 RBI, 10 R, and 1 SB. It may have taken a while for Miller to produce, but those numbers showed he was finally adjusting to major-league pitching.
Owners need to remember that this is just the cusp of what Miller can offer. He’s only played three years of professional ball and spent just two-and-a-half seasons in the minors before getting called up to The Show. Improvements will come.
Last year between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma, Miller hit 12 HR with 53 RBI, and if you extrapolated his numbers with the Mariners over 600 at bats, he’d have finished with 15 HR and 71 RBI.
There will be plenty of offense in Seattle this season — unlike in 2013 when they finished 22nd in runs scored — and by shopping Franklin nearly all winter long, the Mariners have made it clear that Miller is a big part of their future.
Batting eighth or ninth in the lineup (where he’s projected to hit) won’t afford him an inordinate amount of RBI opportunities, but the home run potential is there, as well as double-digit stolen bases.
2014 Projections: .280/.365/.415, 14 HR, 62 RBI, 72 R, 14 SB
» Missed any of my earlier picks? Please click here for links to all the sleepers I’ve have covered from each team so far.