Flying Squirrels second baseman Jalen Miller, 22, already in Baseball Hall of Fame
Fred Jeter | 4/26/2019, 6 a.m.
Jalen Miller achieved one of baseball’s rarest feats a season ago when he hit for the cycle — a single, double, triple and homer in the same game. It was a shining neon sign of coming attractions for the now 22-year-old second baseman with the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
Miller’s historic cycle came April 11, 2018, while playing for the Class A San Jose Giants in a California League game against the Lancaster JetHawks of Lancaster, Calif.
The chiseled 5-foot-11, 190-pound Miller shifted into a higher gear at San Jose (51 extra-base hits, 61 runs batted in) and he has kept his foot firmly on the pedal for the Class AA Eastern League Richmond Flying Squirrels.
Through 14 games under Flying Squirrels Manager Willie Harris, Miller was hitting for power and average while showing off an exceptional glove defensively.
Miller wears the No. 1 jersey, which is fitting because he is No. 1 among the Squirrels in homers (3) and stolen bases (3) while hitting .289.
He also has displayed maturity beyond his years on and off the diamond.
“The first time I saw Jalen, he walked right up to me, shook my hand ... looked me right in the eye and called me by name,” said Squirrels Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Todd “Parney” Parnell. “He’s a very impressive young man.”
Coming out of high school in the Atlanta suburbs, Miller turned down a scholarship offer from NCAA power Clemson University to sign with the San Francisco Giants.
A third round pick, Miller became a millionaire at age 18. His signing bonus was $1.1 million.
“The money had something to do with it,” Miller said of his decision. “But I’ve always wanted to be a pro baseball player. It helped me get an earlier start on my career.
Miller turns 23 in December; this marks his fifth pro season in the Giants’ franchise.
“It took me a while to adjust to 140 games a season and I had my struggles,” he said. “But I feel like I’ve learned from my mistakes. I don’t regret my decision” to turn pro.
Unlike a majority of young African-American athletes nowadays, Miller passed on football and basketball to concentrate on baseball. It helped that his family had season tickets to Atlanta Braves games.
“My father (Donnie) took me to a lot of games. We sat about two rows behind the tarp on the first base side,” Miller recalled.
“Growing up, my favorite players were Chipper (Jones) and Andruw Jones,” both of whom played in Richmond en route to Atlanta.
If Miller had opted for a sport besides baseball, it likely would have been golf.
“I went to summer golf camp four years in a row,” Miller said.
Miller played baseball for Riverside International Charter High School and also the potent East Cobb travel team.
His skills were obvious. Heading into his senior year at age 17, he was timed in the 60-yard dash at 6.9 seconds and his infield throw was clocked at 84 mph at Perfect Game Camp. He’s certain both his speed and arm have been seriously upgraded since then.