Tyler Miller’s fifth home run of the season came at just the right time for Low-A Salem on Sunday night.
After Adenys Bautista blew a save opportunity by allowing the Lynchburg Hillcats to score two runs in the top half of the ninth inning, Miller was set to lead off the bottom of the ninth in what had become an 8-8 ballgame.
Having already gone 0-for-1 with one strikeout and a pair of walks on a rain-filled evening at Salem Memorial Ballpark, Miller found himself matched up against Hillcats right-hander Brauny Munoz. The left-handed hitter worked a 2-2 count before crushing a walk-off homer well over the right field wall to lift the Salem Sox to a 9-8 victory.
The 2022 season has been a tough one for Miller to date. It’s the 22-year-old’s first full campaign as a pro after being selected by Boston in the ninth round of last summer’s amateur draft out of Auburn University.
Following Sunday’s clutch performance, Miller is batting .193/.271/.370 (80 wRC+) with four doubles, one triple, five homers, 15 RBIs, 17 runs scored, three stolen bases, 10 walks, and 50 strikeouts over 31 games (133 plate appearances) this year.
After closing out the 2021 season with Salem, Miller returned to the Carolina League affiliate earlier this spring. The Alabama native held his own in April (122 wRC+), but had seen his production at the plate crater up until the latter half of Salem’s latest series with Lynchburg.
Miller played in the series opener last Tuesday and then rode the bench for two straight days. Since returning to Salem’s lineup on Friday, Miller has reached base in seven of his last 14 trips to the plate while putting together a three-game hitting streak.
Defensively, the 6-foot-2, 193 pounder has logged 62 innings at first base, 97 2/3 innings at third base, and 55 innings in left field. He has yet to commit an error at either of the three positions.
Miller, who does not turn 23 until December, is not yet regarded as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system. He will likely spend the rest of the season in Salem before working his way up to High-A Greenville next year.
On that note, though, it will be interesting to see if Miller can use the momentum he gained over the weekend to turn his 2022 season around for the better beginning in Fredericksburg, Va. on Tuesday.
(Picture of Tyler Miller courtesy of the Salem Red Sox)