Enjoying breakout season, Bristol Blues outfielder Miller has shot at league batting title

Published on Sunday, 28 July 2019 19:08
Written by ZACK CARPENTER

@ZACKCARPENTERBP

BRISTOL - It was at the tail end of his freshman season at St. John’s when Brandon Miller started playing some of the best baseball of his career. 

But it’s not his hot bat in the Red Storm’s NCAA Tournament games that he relishes the most from that 2018 season, and it’s not his four-game hitting streak in helping the program capture the Big East Tournament championship in the week prior that he’s most fond of. 

“I don’t remember anything besides jumping up with my boys in the end when we won, and we got the ring,” Miller says of the conference title. “I don’t remember getting hits. I remember the ring. I remember winning the championship.”

That mentality carried over to a sophomore campaign (.279/.361/.364, 15 RBI, 16 runs scored) when he shined in his first season as a full-time starter, and he’s parlayed that success into what has become his best, or at least his most consistent, stretch of play this summer as a Bristol Blues outfielder. 

Miller, a left-handed hitter batting out of the three-spot, is slashing .357/.433/.500 with 31 RBI, four home runs, eight doubles, 24 runs scored and 24 stolen bases in leading the Blues to a 25-20 record in the FCBL. 

During a smoking-hot stretch from June 22 to July 2, Miller went 22-for-42, his average ascending to .415. Though he’s cooled off since that incredible yet unsustainable pace, his .357 mark has him just five points behind league leader Thomas Joyce of the Westfield Starfires (.362). 

“I know I’m close [to the top],” Miller said. “I don’t look at it too much. As long as I feel like I’m swinging well, in the end I don’t care about all that. Especially if we win, it’s a cherry on top.”

Miller says he tries to always stay away from looking at his own statistics during the season, so a veteran answer deferring to team goals instead of talking about his own accolades was expected. 

But winning that league batting title would still be a really nice award to take back to New York in the fall, right?

“I want it. I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t wanna be the best player in the league,” Miller admits. “I feel like I’ve been putting in the work all summer. I’d love to see the chips fall where they lay and hopefully get it. That’d be sweet.”

His teammates want to see him claim the batting title as well. 

“We’re rooting for him. He’s a really good teammate. A really good guy. He’s always wanting to help me out so I’m rooting for him,” says second baseman Kyle Maves. “He’s a good ball player, and he’s putting together a heck of a season. I hope he gets it. I’ll stay tuned and watch.”

But whether or not he does capture the crown won’t change the fact that Miller has blossomed during his time with the Blues, and he’s been able to utilize his summer in the FCBL for the exact reason the league exists in the first place - to develop himself and head back to his college campus a more polished ball player. 

“Freshman to sophomore year, I played decently well but there was always a little inexperience that kind of held me back, and this summer just helped me let loose and play,” Miller said. “Now when I go back, I feel it’s gonna be just like summer ball.”

Miller says he always felt like he had it in him to have a breakout season, and that’s exactly what he’s enjoyed this summer. 

Sure, he had that nice run to prove himself as a player when he was a freshman, but that was more of just him getting locked in at the perfect time. This summer, however, it’s been noticeably more consistent. He’s able to stay more even keeled, and he knows what subtle changes to make to his swing and when to make them.

“The old me would make adjustments if I had a bad stretch,” Miller said. “When you’re younger, you think you’re having a bad day. You woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and you’re just not gonna get any hits.”

But with the more at-bats he’s had this summer in a more relaxed setting, it’s made it easier for Miller to figure out his own swing, find out exactly what went wrong and fine-tune it. 

“That’s where I wanna separate myself from the rest,” Miller said. “Now I can limit the bad stretches. I really do feel like I make adjustments and when I start going bad, I know how to get back in the swing of things. 

“That’s the biggest thing that helps my confidence the most. It’s more of a mindset now than just a hot bat.”

Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol Blues on Sunday, 28 July 2019 19:08. Updated: Sunday, 28 July 2019 19:11.