The Milwaukee Brewers selected left-handed-hitting prep catcher Darrien Miller in the ninth round of this year’s draft. If Miller signs, the Brewers might have discovered a jewel. Although Miller recently completed high school, he has been training for professional baseball for over 15 years. His hard work shows in the results, as he was first in batting in the ultra-competitive Tri-River Athletic Conference (TRAC). He batted .398 with a 1.187 OPS this year resulting in being honored with TRAC’s Silver Slugger Award. Miller also brings intangibles. After meeting Darrien in the interview below, Brewers fans will come to love his blue-collar work ethic and attitude.
Darrien Miller – Brewers’ Jewel
While Darrien Miller may have flown under the radar to some scouting departments around baseball, he did not go unnoticed by the Milwaukee Brewers. There is no doubt scouts love his hitting. However, Miller also broke loose on the basepaths this year, stealing 14 bases within his team’s conservative play style. He also demonstrated solid defense behind the plate, committing no errors in 158 total chances. Brewers’ brass was definitely paying attention.
Miller was born to Corey (wife Nicole) Miller and Joana (husband Daniel) Harrison. He is the oldest of nine siblings, has a girlfriend Makenna, and a Bernese Mountain dog named Gus. Darrien’s father, Corey Miller, pitched in the Oakland Athletics organization as a reliever and later became a bullpen catcher for the Chicago Cubs.
Emmett Blue recently had the chance to speak in detail with Darrien Miller for an interview with LWOSports. Darrien’s personality and intangibles shine through, showing why the Brewers selected him in the June draft.
Darrien Miller – Extensive Interview
Emmett Blue: What were you doing on draft day when you were selected?
Darrien Miller: I was hanging out, watching the draft on my computer. I got to the later rounds and thought to myself, “Oh, I’m probably not going to get drafted this year”, because I was told I was going to go in the fourth or sixth. After that, I didn’t know if I was going to get drafted. I was making some food and my agent called me. He said, “Are you watching the draft?” I said, “Not right now.” He said, “Go turn it on.” I went back to my computer and saw my name pop up to the Milwaukee Brewers. It was just a dream come true.
Have you always been a fan of the Brewers?
Actually, my family is from Wisconsin, but I spent about three or four years in Chicago. I used to like the Cubs. I was a bat boy for the Cubs for three games. However, I have liked the Brewers also which isn’t very common (for a Cubs fan). I’ve liked Yelich since he was with the Marlins.
What do you know about Wisconsin and the Brewers?
My grandma was born in Oshkosh. She ended up marrying my grandpa there. They moved to Las Vegas, so I really never got to visit. When I was with my dad (he was a bullpen catcher for the Cubs), I went to a couple of the Brewers games. He met my step-mom in Wisconsin. My little sister lives in Milwaukee. She lives with her other dad there.
Who was your favorite player growing up?
My favorite player was Mike Trout. He’s a stud.
Can you tell Wisconsin folks what it was like to grow up in California?
It’s great. I grew up in Yosemite actually for the first part of my childhood and that was amazing, just always being outside, getting to grow up and see all the beautiful things out there, but then I came to Clovis and it’s nice because the weather here all year is nice so you can play baseball all year long. You don’t have to worry about going inside because of snow and things like that. All through the winter and fall I’m playing baseball and working hard.
You are also a good student from what I hear. What are your favorite subjects?
My favorite subjects are history and math. If baseball doesn’t work out I’ll go for Civil Engineering.
When you announced your commitment to New Mexico on Twitter you pointed out that God is the most important person to thank. When you look back on your time growing up and see where you are now, how has God been instrumental in your success?
He’s just always been there for me and been someone I can count on. I’ve always believed in Him, been at church every Sunday. I keep out of trouble. I’m very committed to Him and I don’t spend any time out partying. I follow Him and just try to be the best person I can be. He’s also made a lot of things happen for me that I definitely couldn’t do without Him.
If and when you go to the Major Leagues do you have a certain ballpark you are looking most forward to playing at?
Miller Park. I think it’s awesome having the same name as it.
Playing the Game
Video and Artwork Courtesy of Desere Mayo; Audio Clips from Interview
Every player has something inside them that drives them to excel. What motivates you to perform in baseball?
The love of baseball – I love playing the game and I want to see how far it can take me. I love working hard.
Do you hate losing?
I hate losing (laughs), whether I’m playing a normal game with my friends or in a high stakes baseball game.
Your left-handed bat certainly gives you added value as a catcher. There aren’t many catchers that can hit left-handed. You bat left handed but throw right handed. How did that come to be?
My dad went through pro ball and saw how important it is to be a left-handed batter, how rare it is, and how much value there is in it. As a kid, my dad wouldn’t throw the ball to me unless I would turn around and hit left-handed. He was the main reason for that. My little brothers went through the same thing.
How old were you when that happened?
I was probably about three when I started swinging the bat.
You also pitched. Has pitching helped you become a better receiver? How so?
I would pitch if they needed someone to throw an inning. It does help, because you can see what the catcher does – what looks good and what looks different. One of the things [that helps] is how are you catching it from the pitcher’s point of view. Ultimately, you want the pitcher to like how you catch the ball. That way they will want you to catch for them in the game.
Regardless of whether you are in the Brewers organization or are competing at New Mexico, what two things about your play are you most looking to improve at the next level?
I’m really looking forward to developing my body. I’ve always been someone with a fast metabolism and putting on weight has always been tough. I’ve always been strong and wiry, but I really need to put on 20 extra pounds to be able to go through a full season.
Also, I’ve self-taught myself many things about hitting and catching just from Youtube – comparing myself to big leaguers – so I’m looking forward to some really great instruction from all my coaches.
Brewers prospect Jake Gatewood also went to Clovis High School. He congratulated you on Twitter. Has he or any other alums given you advice or reached out to you during your time at Clovis?
Dylan Lee, he’s with the Marlins AA or AAA. He’s a lefty that throws about 97. He’s reached out and I had a couple of my ex-teammates who are now in college reach out too. Alan Crowley, an ex-catcher from the Braves organization, went with me and kind of worked out with me before this season. That was awesome.
How important was it to you to go all the way this year?
Very important. We’ve won the Valley Championship. My coach has been coaching for 35 years. He has the most wins in the Central section. He’s one of the most legendary coaches around. Everyone knows him. This is his last year. I’m just glad that we could end the season with another ring for him. He’s got 10 now – one for each finger.
You have a pretty good time in the 60-yard dash (6.91 per Perfect Game USA). I imagine you take a lot of pride in that as a catcher – not all catchers can run well. In 2018 you stole one base, but this year you swiped 14. Where did the “huge jump” come from? (Pun intended).
That was more of a coaching style. Stealing bases isn’t really our team’s thing. Last year as a junior they kind of shut me down and wouldn’t let me steal at all. But this year they gave me the green light. I only got thrown out once this year and it was on a hit and run where the batter didn’t swing so I was out by a mile. They were happy as long as I wasn’t making outs getting thrown out.
That’s a lot of steals. Did the police come to your house to take you to jail after you stole those bases? It’s okay if you did. On Fridays, the Brewers wear pinstripes anyway. Did you get to see the Brewers “Mean Girls” spoof video?
(Jokes) Yes they did! (Laughs). No, I didn’t [catch the video], but I’d love to see it. (After watching) That’s amazing!
What is the funniest thing that happened to you during your baseball career?
There’s something fun my team does every year. I did it when I came up as a freshman for playoffs. You have to sing in front of the whole team. You have to sing a full song, with music, put it together, and put a dance with it. If they don’t like it they get to spray you with a hose and dunk you in an ice bucket.
Did they like yours?
They did not actually. I tried singing a country song and I got put in the bucket. I’m not a very good singer. I think I sang the country song “I Love this Life” by LoCash Cowboys. It was my walkup song too so that’s part of the reason they didn’t like it.
Hobbies & Interests
Emmett Blue: Is grilling out one of your hobbies?
Darrien Miller: (Puzzled) I’m sorry… Did you say grilling?
Oh, I apologize. Earlier, when you were talking about California you said, “getting to grow up”. I heard, “grilling out”. Wisconsinites love grilling out and tailgating. Anything that remotely sounds like “grilling out” perks the ears up.
(Laughs) I mostly like to golf. I golf right-handed but swing my baseball bat left-handed. That way my golf swing doesn’t mess up my baseball swing. Every weekend I normally go golfing with a couple of my friends.
What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
I listen to country and Christian music and that’s about it.
Here’s the deal: You get to choose one theme song for how your baseball career will unfold. What do you choose?
I really like the song Amarillo Sky. It’s about a guy working hard on a farm. It’s about how hard he works and how he asks the Lord not to let his dreams die and to let him get everything he wants out of life so that would be my pick.
You’ve told Brewers fans a lot. Thank you. If you can give them one final message, what will it be?
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