Miller taking swing at the Majors

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Selma times-Journal

When Jai Miller shows up for spring training next month, it won’t be for the first time.

He has played in exhibition games for the Florida Marlins in each of the past two years.

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This time will be a little different, though. Miller is considered one of the rising prospects in the game and is an official invitee as part of Florida’s 40-man roster.

“They made the roster Nov. 20, and I got the call right after that,” Miller said. “I’m looking forward to it. I knew that day they had to make a decision, so I was ecstatic when I heard. My whole family was excited.”

After Miller finished the season in Double-A with the Carolina Mudcats, the center fielder reported to play in the Arizona Fall League in early October. The month long exhibition league showcases the top minor league players, some of which leave with shorter paths to the majors.

Miller said he didn’t have the ideal experience, but he wasn’t at all disappointed with the way he played.

“I feel I proved myself as one of the best minor league players around,” Miller said. “I got hurt near the end, so my numbers fell. There were a lot of executives there, and they were pretty happy with what I did.”

Miller has been playing from last February to this past November, and it has taken a toll on his body. Coming back home to Selma for the winter was as much about relaxing as it was about rehabilitating.

Position players for the Marlins report Feb. 22, and Miller already has strong competition ahead of him.

The team made a number of trades in the offseason, and one of them included bringing Cameron Maybin over from the Detroit Tigers. Maybin already has Major League experience and is considered by some to be the top center field prospect in the game. His athletic ability has been likened to the team’s shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, who finished in the top 10 of the National League MVP voting this past season.

“It’s kind of crazy. We know each other really well,” Miller said. “Me and Cameron talked the day of the trade. We’re close, but it’s a spot we know we’re both trying to get.”