Noah Miller is the latest highly-regarded prep baseball player in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has produced several talented prospects in recent years, including Miller’s brother, Owen. After excelling for three years at Illinois State, Owen was a third-round pick by the San Diego Padres in the 2018 draft. The Padres traded Owen to the Cleveland Indians in August 2020.
Owen also has helped Miller, a shortstop at Ozaukee High, in his development as a baseball player, especially since they both play shortstop, Miller said.
Three years after Owen started a pro career, Miller is a well-regarded prospect for July’s draft. Miller is one of the top prep middle infielders in this year’s class and a likely early-round pick in the draft.
“Just talking to all the scouts has been fun,” Miller said. “They are great guys, and it’s been fun to get to know them. It has been a journey. It has been a grind, especially with basketball this offseason, workouts and talking to scouts. I have had no time off.”
In recent years, Wisconsin has had an influx of players drafted by major league teams.
Shortstop Gavin Lux of Kenosha Indian Trail High went 20th overall to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016, and outfielder Jarred Kelenic of Waukesha West High went sixth overall to the New York Mets in 2018. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee catcher Daulton Varsho of Marshfield was a second-round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017.
Miller credits the increase in indoor facilities for Wisconsin’s development into a consistent producer of high-end college and pro baseball talent. Miller has worked out at Hitters Baseball in Caledonia, Wisconsin since he was 12 years old.
“The biggest thing they have done for me is giving me reps that I need to develop my skills,” Miller said. “Also, on the mental side, (Hitters owner) RJ (Fergus) is always pushing us in the winter with hard workouts. They aren’t even for your body but to push you mentally. I think that’s a big thing. He also has helped me get in front of the people to be noticed.”
Miller’s biggest strength is his defensive skills. Miller, a 6-foot, 187-pound shortstop, is one of the better up-the-middle defenders in this year’s prep class.
He has the arm strength and accuracy to make all the necessary throws while possessing the athleticism and footwork to move well from side to side. He recorded a 6.93-second 60-yard dash at the Super 60 Pro Showcase in February.
Miller has the instincts, arm strength and quick feet to stick at shortstop in pro ball.
“I feel like I am one of the top defenders in the entire country,” Miller said. “That is always one thing I’ve worked on my entire life. I was throwing a racquetball against the wall in the basement when I was a kid. That’s the same with my accuracy. I would always set up a black square box, and I would always have to hit that every time.
“Our field isn’t the greatest high school field. I have always had to deal with that when taking ground balls, and I think that’s where it’s come from. I would say my defense is 100% the best part of my game right now.”
Offensively, Miller is a switch-hitter. Miller is naturally a right-handed hitter but started switch-hitting when he was young.
As a kid, He would bat left-handed when he played whiffle ball in the backyard, he said. It led to him hitting left-handed for the first time in a game when he was in fifth grade.
Miller has a simple setup with notable bat-to-ball skills. He drives the ball to all fields and has a solid approach. He displays more power from the right side of the plate. Overall, he’s a consistent and reliable hitter.
“I probably get more in-game at-bats on the left side, but I work hard enough off the field to keep them very similar to not have a dominate side,” Miller said. “One of my goals with switch-hitting is to not be so one-sided.”
Besides his status as a top draft prospect, Miller also is a University of Alabama commit. He attended a camp at Alabama and then toured the campus as an underclassman in high school.
Once he toured Alabama, he knew it was the right fit for him, he said. Miller committed to Alabama as a sophomore in November 2018.
“Everything they had on campus was super nice,” Miller said. “It was perfect. I just fell in love with the place. The coaching staff is amazing. I wanted to play against the best competition there is, and that’s in the SEC. I’m happy I’m committed there, and if I don’t get drafted, I’m going to fulfill my commitment.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He has interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.