Phillies prospect Aidan Miller starts pro career with more bang

CLEARWATER — Aidan Miller’s journey from exceptional high school player to top pro prospect was about 35 minutes long.

That’s the length of the commute the former Mitchell High standout continues to make every day from his childhood home in Trinity to the Phillies’ complex in Clearwater, where he is one of the organization’s top young talents.

“It’s nice, because I have my family and friends around me,” Miller said last week from the complex just west of U.S. 19. “I have their support, and they can come to see me play here. It was a surprise, something I didn’t really think about before (the 2023 draft), but it’s been a pleasant surprise.”

The journey to the big leagues for the 27th overall pick, however, will be longer.

Miller understands he’ll need more than the power at the plate that made him an elite high school player to succeed against tougher competition. He’s already showing he is committed to becoming an all-around player, working on his defense and earning a chance to play every day at shortstop.

It is something Miller and his family, who own the Courthouse Performance Center in Oldsmar, should enjoy while they can. With the way he has started the season, he likely won’t be playing in the low Class A Florida State League for long.

Miller, 19, opened the season as the No. 49 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, and the second-highest in the Phillies organization. In 28 games with the Threshers through Saturday, he was hitting .313 with a .950 OPS. He had four home runs, 13 doubles and 21 RBIs in 112 at-bats.

“I am just focused on where my feet are,” Miller said, smiling. “I mean, it’s nice to hear that, but this is where I am right now. This is where I have to be focused on.”

Miller means that.

He was raised in a baseball family — his father and older brother both played professionally in the minors — and he has watched as major-league players, including Marcus Stroman, Pete Alonso and Luke Maile, practiced their craft around the family’s hitting facility during the offseason.

“I expected this,” Miller said. “I knew I would always have to work hard and always try to adapt and get better.”

He showed that this winter.

After a few games in the Florida State League last year, Miller acknowledged he struggled with hitting high-velocity pitches. He approached Luke Murton, the Phillies’ director of hitting development, and they worked together on changes to his swing.

“A lot of things we did didn’t work or I didn’t like,” Miller said. “It took about three months, but we found a change in my setup. It’s helped a lot.”

Miller now sets up with his hips more toward the catcher, making his stance more “closed.”

“It’s natural,” he said. “With that, it just kind of clicked into place.”

Miller’s swing also is “quieter,” according to scouts who have seen him. A hitch that Miller said he needed for timing in the past is gone. His head is steady, and there is a lot less movement overall.

The adjustment has made high-velocity fastballs easier for him to see and get to. There also is another benefit: “I have pull power now,” Miller said. “I never could pull the ball before, but now I am able to do that from this position.”

The proof of Miller’s hard work is obvious if you look at his stat line. About half of his doubles, he said, are a direct result of the changes.

A lack of change in another area is further proof of MIller’s hard work.

When he was in high school, scouts typically began their reports on Miller by saying he was listed as a shortstop but would have to move to third base. So, when he reported to rookie camp after signing last year, Miller told Phillies minor league infield coordinator Adam Everett he wanted to stay at shortstop.

The organization gave him a chance to do so and watched as he worked diligently on his defense. The Phillies had planned for him to split his time between short and third, but Miller has worked hard, particularly on cleaning up his footwork, and has yet to play anywhere but shortstop.

“I played third in high school and on my high school team and travel ball teams, because those teams always had another shortstop,” Miller said. “I’ve always wanted to be a shortstop, so I’ve worked hard at it and they’ve given me that chance.”

So far, he sees to be making the most of it.