Q&A With Red Sox 9th Round Pick Mike Miller

The Boston Red Sox selected shortstop Mike Miller in the 9th round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Cal Poly -San Luis Obispo. We sat down with him for a draft day Q&A session to get his thoughts on being drafted by the Red Sox, to get an idea on his strengths and weaknesses, who he would compare himself to at the big league level, and much more.

DiehardMagazine.com: Tell us what it feels like to be selected by the Red Sox?

Mike Miller: It's a dream come true, really. Being on the west coast we still see a lot of Red Sox games. There's a lot of excitement from Boston fans out here, and it's cool to know I'm going to be a part of an organization loved by its fans, and one with such a dedicated front office and staff. Really, I was hoping to be chosen by the Red Sox, and I think it will be a good fit. I'm just still in shock I have the opportunity to play for an organization with the personnel and fans like the Red Sox'.

DiehardMagazine.com: Talk about your game a little bit. What type of player are you and how do you see yourself fitting in with the Red Sox?

Miller: I played some second and third base in summer ball, but primarily I've played shortstop my entire career. I like to think of myself as a player who tries to play the game the right way; I'm not a guy who jumps out physically at 5-foot-8, 170, so I find different ways to be successful, you know. That could mean always making sure you're mentally prepared, asking questions, and just being a student of the game. You know, studying pitchers, watching the way the ball comes off the bat of some hitters. I really take pride in being knowledgeable about the game. As far as how I'll fit in with the Red Sox, I'll do whatever they ask of me, and whatever happens, happens. I love the game of baseball, and anything that gets me on the field and allows me to play everyday, I'll do. I've always taken pride in putting in the work and working hard to be successful, and I believe the results will come.

DiehardMagazine.com: What are your strengths and your weaknesses?

Miller: I just need to keep working on my offensive game, and work on some footwork stuff in the infield. Footwork-wise at shortstop I feel pretty good, but I think I could improve on some footwork at second base and I could be really good there and make myself more valuable to the organization. As far as offensively, I need to keep improving and play my game. I'm a line drive hitter who can drive the ball in the gaps, and a guy who can help out my team in certain situations. That could mean laying down a bunt to move a runner over or to get on base to start an inning and get my team going, or it could mean making sure I at least get the ball in the air with a man on third for the sac. Really what it comes down to is I'll do whatever is best for the team in that situation.

DiehardMagazine.com: How about your defensive game?

Miller: Since I first started playing baseball, defense has always been very important to me and a strong part of my game. Offensively, there will be slumps, but defensively, I feel you can always stay in the game. I really take pride in being solid defensively, and want my pitchers to trust that I can make the play if they get a ground ball to short or wherever it may be in the infield.

DiehardMagazine.com: Who would you compare your game to at the Major League level so Sox' fans have an idea of what your game is like?

Miller: I don't want to sound like I'm close to the level of Pedroia, but he's definitely a guy I look up to, and I kind of model my game after him. He's scrappy and plays the game hard and I play the game that way as well. Mike Aviles and Nick Punto are other guys I kind of compare myself to. Aviles has the scrappy style and plays the game the right way and Punto has got the job done for a lot of teams and plays solid defense. Things like getting the guy over with a sac bunt of fly, or finding a way to knock the guy in; those are things those guys do that I feel I do as well. Also, another guy I grew up idolizing and I feel I model my game after is Ozzie Smith, who's a Cal Poly alumni. He was tremendous defensively and I feel a little underrated as a hitter, so it's cool following in his footsteps.

DiehardMagazine.com: Were you expecting to be drafted by the Red Sox or were you surprised when they selected you?

Miller: I had a little contact with Boston before, so I wasn't too surprised, and I was hoping for the best, which for me was being drafted by the Red Sox. Like I said, I love the way the organization is run and how faithful the fans are, and it just seemed like an organization I could fit into. One of our outfielders Mitch Haniger, who was drafted 38th overall by the Brewers, garnered a lot of interest from the Red sox, which ended up being beneficial for me and helped me out because they started talking to me and seemed to really like me. I think they kinda saw I was a baseball rat, and I worked hard and just loved being out on a baseball field, and I'm glad it all worked out.

DiehardMagazine.com: Do you see yourself staying at the same position or do you think you'll be moved to another position?

Miller: I'm more comfortable at shortstop, but like I said I have had experience with second and third before so I feel I can play all three positions. If I work on a little footwork, I feel I could be just as good at second than I am at short, but I'm not worried about where they're going to put me. I'll play wherever they want me to play and whatever happens, happens.

DiehardMagazine.com: What would you say is your best moment in baseball and why?

Miller: Probably this year in a doubleheader against Tony Gwynn and San Diego State. I hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth to even the series. We'd been struggling in prior weeks, and it kind of turned our season around and we were on a roll for awhile after that. You could see the energy on our team change and our confidence pick up, so that ended up being a really cool moment for me.

DiehardMagazine.com: Who was your favorite team and player growing up?

Miller: I grew up in the Bay Area, but my favorite team growing up was actually the Seattle Mariners because of Ken Griffey Jr. My dad brought me to a game between the A's and the Mariners at the Coliseum when I was about four and Griffey Jr. had a few hits and made some nice catches in centerfield and I liked them ever since. I think another reason I liked them was because they had an 18-year-old kid named Alex Rodriguez playing shortstop and I thought that was cool that an 18-year-old was playing in the major leagues. I love taking ground balls, and that's kind of where I got my love for shortstop and the infield.

DiehardMagazine.com: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming players who aspire to play professionally?

Miller: The biggest piece of advice I can give that has helped me the most is to just work hard. There's no substitute for hard work, and you can always hang your hat on being a hard worker and doing the best job you can possibly do. You don't want to have any regrets or say ‘I could've done more.' Another is to be a student of the game. Study pitchers, study hitters, study the game in general. The more you learn about the game, the more you'll be able to understand, and you'll end up being more prepared and successful because of that.

DiehardMagazine.com: As a senior I'm assuming you want to start your professional career immediately.

Miller: I'm definitely going to sign and start my journey as a professional baseball player. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to play the game of baseball everyday for a living. I just graduated and I'm in the process of moving out of my house in San Luis Obispo, and I fly out to Lowell pretty soon. I haven't seen much of the East Coast so I'm definitely looking forward to that, and I honestly couldn't be more excited to have the opportunity to play baseball professionally and in the Boston Red Sox organization.


Diehard Magazine Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nDiehardMagazine.com: Tell us what it feels like to be selected by the Red Sox?
\r\n
\r\nMike Miller: It's a dream come true, really. Being on the west coast we still see a lot of Red Sox games. There's a lot of excitement from Boston fans out here, and it's cool to know I'm going to be a part of an organization loved by its fans, and one with such a dedicated front office and staff. Really, I was hoping to be chosen by the Red Sox, and I think it will be a good fit. I'm just still in shock I have the opportunity to play for an organization with the personnel and fans like the Red Sox'.
\r\n
\r\nDiehardMagazine.com: Talk about your game a little bit. What type of player are you and how do you see yourself fitting in with the Red Sox?
\r\n
\r\nMiller: I played some second and third base in summer ball, but primarily I've played shortstop my entire career. I like to think of myself as a player who tries to play the game the right way; I'm not a guy who jumps out physically at 5-foot-8, 170, so I find different ways to be successful, you know. That could mean always making sure you're mentally prepared, asking questions, and just being a student of the game. You know, studying pitchers, watching the way the ball comes off the bat of some hitters. I really take pride in being knowledgeable about the game. As far as how I'll fit in with the Red Sox, I'll do whatever they ask of me, and whatever happens, happens. I love the game of baseball, and anything that gets me on the field and allows me to play everyday, I'll do. I've always taken pride in putting in the work and working hard to be successful, and I believe the results will come.
\r\n
\r\nDiehardMagazine.com: What are your strengths and your weaknesses?
\r\n
\r\nMiller: I just need to keep working on my offensive game, and work on some footwork stuff in the infield. Footwork-wise at shortstop I feel pretty good, but I think I could improve on some footwork at second base and I could be really good there and make myself more valuable to the organization. As far as offensively, I need to keep improving and play my game. I'm a line drive hitter who can drive the ball in the gaps, and a guy who can help out my team in certain situations. That could mean laying down a bunt to move a runner over or to get on base to start an inning and get my team going, or it could mean making sure I at least get the ball in the air with a man on third for the sac. Really what it comes down to is I'll do whatever is best for the team in that situation.
\r\n
\r\nDiehardMagazine.com: How about your defensive game?
\r\n
\r\nMiller: Since I first started playing baseball, defense has always been very important to me and a strong part of my game. Offensively, there will be slumps, but defensively, I feel you can always stay in the game. I really take pride in being solid defensively, and want my pitchers to trust that I can make the play if they get a ground ball to short or wherever it may be in the infield.
\r\n
\r\nDiehardMagazine.com: Who would you compare your game to at the Major League level so Sox' fans have an idea of what your game is like?
\r\n
\r\nMiller: I don't want to sound like I'm close to the level of Pedroia, but he's definitely a guy I look up to, and I kind of model my game after him. He's scrappy and plays the game hard and I play the game that way as well. Mike Aviles and Nick Punto are other guys I kind of compare myself to. Aviles has the scrappy style and plays the game the right way and Punto has got the job done for a lot of teams and plays solid defense. Things like getting the guy over with a sac bunt of fly, or finding a way to knock the guy in; those are things those guys do that I feel I do as well. Also, another guy I grew up idolizing and I feel I model my game after is Ozzie Smith, who's a Cal Poly alumni. He was tremendous defensively and I feel a little underrated as a hitter, so it's cool following in his footsteps.
\r\n
\r\nDiehardMagazine.com: Were you expecting to be drafted by the Red Sox or were you surprised when they selected you?
\r\n
\r\nMiller: I had a little contact with Boston before, so I wasn't too surprised, and I was hoping for the best, which for me was being drafted by the Red Sox. Like I said, I love the way the organization is run and how faithful the fans are, and it just seemed like an organization I could fit into. One of our outfielders Mitch Haniger, who was drafted 38th overall by the Brewers, garnered a lot of interest from the Red sox, which ended up being beneficial for me and helped me out because they started talking to me and seemed to really like me. I think they kinda saw I was a baseball rat, and I worked hard and just loved being out on a baseball field, and I'm glad it all worked out.
\r\n
\r\nDiehardMagazine.com: Do you see yourself staying at the same position or do you think you'll be moved to another position?
\r\n
\r\nMiller: I'm more comfortable at shortstop, but like I said I have had experience with second and third before so I feel I can play all three positions. If I work on a little footwork, I feel I could be just as good at second than I am at short, but I'm not worried about where they're going to put me. I'll play wherever they want me to play and whatever happens, happens.
\r\n
\r\nDiehardMagazine.com: What would you say is your best moment in baseball and why?
\r\n
\r\nMiller: Probably this year in a doubleheader against Tony Gwynn and San Diego State. I hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth to even the series. We'd been struggling in prior weeks, and it kind of turned our season around and we were on a roll for awhile after that. You could see the energy on our team change and our confidence pick up, so that ended up being a really cool moment for me.
\r\n
\r\nDiehardMagazine.com: Who was your favorite team and player growing up?
\r\n
\r\nMiller: I grew up in the Bay Area, but my favorite team growing up was actually the Seattle Mariners because of Ken Griffey Jr. My dad brought me to a game between the A's and the Mariners at the Coliseum when I was about four and Griffey Jr. had a few hits and made some nice catches in centerfield and I liked them ever since. I think another reason I liked them was because they had an 18-year-old kid named Alex Rodriguez playing shortstop and I thought that was cool that an 18-year-old was playing in the major leagues. I love taking ground balls, and that's kind of where I got my love for shortstop and the infield.
\r\n
\r\nDiehardMagazine.com: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming players who aspire to play professionally?
\r\n
\r\nMiller: The biggest piece of advice I can give that has helped me the most is to just work hard. There's no substitute for hard work, and you can always hang your hat on being a hard worker and doing the best job you can possibly do. You don't want to have any regrets or say ‘I could've done more.' Another is to be a student of the game. Study pitchers, study hitters, study the game in general. The more you learn about the game, the more you'll be able to understand, and you'll end up being more prepared and successful because of that.
\r\n
\r\nDiehardMagazine.com: As a senior I'm assuming you want to start your professional career immediately.
\r\n
\r\nMiller: I'm definitely going to sign and start my journey as a professional baseball player. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to play the game of baseball everyday for a living. I just graduated and I'm in the process of moving out of my house in San Luis Obispo, and I fly out to Lowell pretty soon. I haven't seen much of the East Coast so I'm definitely looking forward to that, and I honestly couldn't be more excited to have the opportunity to play baseball professionally and in the Boston Red Sox organization.
\r\n
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