By Trey McCurry.
With school recently starting back and the baseball team back on campus, TheClemsonInsider is once again cranking up the baseball coverage with weekly features on the upperclassmen of the Tiger baseball team. In the first installment of this series, TCI caught up with now former Tiger shortstop Brad Miller to talk about last season and his ultimate decision to sign with the Seattle Mariners.
The Windermere, FL native had one of the best seasons by a Tiger in recent memory. On the season, he hit .395 with 11 doubles, three triples, five homers, 50 RBI, and 21 stolen bases in 56 games. For his efforts, he was named the ACC Player-of-the-Year; first-team All-American by ABCA, Baseball America, and Collegiate Baseball; second-team All-American by NCMWA and Perfect Game; and the winner of the Brooks Wallace Shortstop-of-the-Year Award.
“Last year was full of some ups and downs,” said #13. “I ended up missing some time with a broken finger so when I got back out there I didn’t take playing for granted. Obviously we fell short of our ultimate goal of winning a national championship, but it was a honor to be able to bring back some recognition to our team with the awards and accolades.”
Miller’s numbers in 2011 put him in some elite company among Clemson baseball history.
He was the 12th Tiger to be named ACC Player-of-the-Year and first since Khalil Greene won the award in 2002. (Coincidentally, watching Greene playing shortstop for the Tigers in the College World Series was what drew Miller to Clemson.) Besides being named Player-of-the-Year, Miller led the ACC in batting average by a remarkable 31 points (at .395) and also led the conference with a .498 on-base percentage all while missing seven games with a broken finger. Both numbers which were good enough to land the junior in the top 25 in the nation in two statistical categories, 16th in on-base percentage and 25th in batting average.
Miller also became only the third Tiger to be named ACC Player/Pitcher-of-the-Week three times in one year, joining Greene (three times in 2002) and Kris Benson (six times in 1996). In addition to his ACC Player-of-the-Week awards, Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA also named the shortstop a National Player-of-the-Week for his performance in five games from April 5-10. In those five games, he went 14-for-21 (.667) with two doubles, two triples, seven RBI, eight runs, a .952 slugging percentage, and did not commit an error in 28 chances.
Following his standout season, the Seattle Mariners selected Miller in the second-round (#62 overall pick) of the 2011 MLB Draft. In a decision that went all the way up to the final day of the signing deadline, the junior ultimately decided to forgo his senior season and join the Mariners.
“The whole draft process was a great experience,” said Miller. “After our season ended, I had a tough decision to make and talked it over with my family for a while. It was a big decision for myself, but at the end of the day, I felt the opportunity to play pro ball was something that I couldn’t pass up right now. I was just thankful to be in that situation and my love for Clemson made the decision even harder!”
Miller ended his career as a Tiger with a .339 batting average and a .451 on-base percentage in 191 games (189 starts) over three seasons. He had 36 doubles, eight triples, 16 homers, 135 RBI, 173 runs, 143 walks against only 112 strikeouts, and 46 steals in his career. The shortstop was even better against ACC regular-season competition. In 85 games (84 starts), he hit .358 with a .460 on-base percentage along with 15 doubles, five triples, nine homers, 58 RBI, 71 runs, and 21 steals.
Even though he only played three seasons in Tigertown, Miller still had impressive numbers that rank him among the top 50 lists of 10 career offensive categories. He is tied for seventh in walks (143), tied for 19th in stolen bases (46), tied for 20th in runs (173), tied for 23rd in batting average (.339), 24th in hits (232), tied for 29th in triples (8), 33rd in at-bats (685), 37th in RBI (135), tied for 43rd in games (191), and tied for 47th in doubles (36).
Even though he has moved on in his career, Clemson will never be far from his mind. “My time at Clemson was priceless. I made some friends for life and had experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life. I can’t say enough about my time there and I will always be a Tiger.”