Brandon Miller provides power in the middle of Hagerstown’s lineup

In low-Class A Hagerstown right fielder Brandon Miller’s first full season of professional baseball, he’s starting to show the same power that made him a Division I home run champion.

Miller, a fourth-round pick last June, has four home runs and 13 RBI in his past 10 games with the Suns, moving him into a tie with Class AAA Syracuse shortstop Zach Walters for the Nationals‘ organization lead with nine homers. A year after hitting 23 home runs in 246 at-bats as a senior at Samford, Miller is tied for fifth in the South Atlantic League in homers and tied for 11th with a .503 slugging percentage.

“It’s good pitching here,” Miller said Wednesday after the Suns lost for the only time in a three-game home series against Greensboro. ” A lot of guys have more command with their fastball and their off-speed stuff. There were some guys like that in college, but here it’s an everyday kind of thing. But I pretty much have the same approach. Hitting is always the same.”

The Suns have won six straight series to take over first place in the Northern Division at 26-16. Miller, a 23-year-old former catcher, is getting used to a more rigorous schedule than what he saw in the New York-Penn League and at Georgia Tech, Northwest Florida State College and Samford.

“It takes a toll on your body that I didn’t expect, but I’m figuring out a way to work through it,” Miller said. “It’s been a lot of fun, with a great group of guys and a great coaching staff.”

At Georgia Tech, Miller was stuck as the third-string catcher behind Jason Haniger and Cole Leonida, who is in the Nationals’ system at high-Class A Potomac.

In search of playing time, Miller caught for a year in junior college before heading to Samford, which had recruited him out of high school in College Park, Ga. The Birmingham, Ala., school was a nice fit for Miller, who moved to right field because he had a bone spur in his knee. His strong arm helped him make the switch, and he has only one error in 39 games in right field this season while hitting .245 with 27 RBI.

At Samford, Miller met his wife, Jessica, who played tennis for the Bulldogs. The two were married Jan. 5.

Miller helped lead Samford’s baseball program to its first NCAA tournament trip, and then he homered in a win over Mississippi State in the program’s first game in regionals.

“Nothing can ever compare to that experience, going with a team that had never made a regional before,” Miller said. “That’s something I’ll never forget.”

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James Wagner · May 23, 2013

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