Orioles Outfielder Jai Miller is certainly one of the hot topics this spring training. He has started out spring training on a tear, hitting .318/.348/.646 with a plethora of extra base hits. However, It's important to not overreact to these statistics. It is important to remember that most pitchers are primarily working on their location and possibly just throwing a select pitch (usually a fastball) for their first couple starts. I wrote about spring training hype here, and encourage everyone to read.
Jai Miller is certainly getting the dreaded spring training hype right now, and rightly so. He is a good story from one aspect. He has struggled to crack a major league roster, and is a newly acquired player on a team looking for as many answers as they can find. Could Jai Miller be one of those answers? I would surely hope so, but I have my reservations.
The statistics that no one is talking about are scary. Jai has struck out 10 times compared to walking only once. Thats a 10:1 K:BB ratio for anyone not in a math mood today. This trend is obviously bound to even out a little, but it still shows that Jai has major flaws with the bat. Check out his K% and K:BB ratio from the past three years:
Those ratios are scary. Just to give a little comparison, Mark Reynolds had a K:BB ratio of 2.6:1 last season. Imagine what would happen if Jai was given substantial playing time. Actually, imagine if he was given 500 PA. If you calculate his 10 K's from this spring training over the course of 500 PA, it equates to 227 K's. That makes Reynolds look like nothing!
So why does Jai have such ridiculous K numbers? It's mostly because he cannot hit the breaking ball. He tends to struggle picking up the pitch out of their hand, and often is over-swinging on it. He certainly has some pop in his bat, and can hit the fastball efficiently enough to garner attention. However, if you cannot hit the breaking and off-speed pitches, it's only a matter of time before this gets exposed in the majors. Jai has a lot of maturing to do still as a player, so maybe he can fix these flaws. I highly doubt it happens this year though.