Bryce Miller is moving on up.
Miller, who was a standout in the Everett AquaSox’s starting rotation from day one, received the call Saturday as he was promoted by the Seattle Mariners from the High-A Sox to Double-A Arkansas.
Miller, a 23-year-old right-hander who was selected by Seattle in the fourth round of the 2021 draft, dazzled the Northwest League with his high-90s fastball and hard-breaking slider. In 17 games he was 3-3 with a 3.14 ERA, walking 25 and striking out 99 in 77.2 innings. His strikeout total ranked second in the league.
Miller was dominant through the first two months of the season and was leading the league in both ERA and strikeouts when he took a liner off his pitching wrist in a home start against Tri-City on June 15. Though Miller didn’t miss any time, he wasn’t quite himself again until his start at Tri-City on July 16, when he tossed six scoreless innings while striking out 10. That would seem to have been enough to convince the Seattle brass that he was ready for a greater challenge.
In a year in which Everett has seen surprisingly little in the way of permanent roster turnover Miller, who’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’ 20th-best prospect, is the first key component lost to promotion.
Miller’s promotion came in the midst of a three-game home series against the Eugene Emeralds in which pitching was at a premium. Prior to last week’s All-Star break the Sox had a six-game series at Tri-City in which they allowed just 15 runs, with the starters combining to give up just one. The story was the opposite in the three games against Eugene, as Everett allowed 34 runs and 24 walks en route to being swept.
The sweep at the hands of Eugene meant the Sox fell back to .500 in the second half at 12-12 (43-46 overall). Everett sits in third place in the second-half standings, 4.5 games behind Vancouver.
Players of the week
Hitter: Victor Labrada. Noelvi Marte had the biggest game of the week when he had 10 total bases and drove in seven runs in Friday’s 16-9 defeat, but Labrada gets the edge for having the more consistent series. The 22-year-old center fielder from Cuba, who’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’s No. 23 prospect, led the team in batting average (.538), OPS (1.230) and runs (four), highlighted by a 4-for-5 showing with two doubles in Sunday’s 12-7 loss.
Pitcher: Tim Elliott. Ugh. Giving up 34 runs in three games doesn’t leave much to choose from. Elliott, a 24-year-old right-handed reliever who was selected by the Mariners in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, was a rare breath of fresh air, getting all four batters he faced out — three by strikeout — in Friday’s loss, including a strikeout to end an inning after he inherited runners at the corners.
The week ahead
Everett gets a chance to make up ground in the second-half race this week with a six-game series at Vancouver, which begins Tuesday. The Canadians, who are an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, are in first place at 16-7 (46-40 overall), 2.5 games ahead of second-place Eugene, and Vancouver is on a tear, having won 10 of its last 11. The Sox and Canadians are 6-6 against one another this season.
The good news for the Sox is that they won’t have to deal with a pair of Vancouver’s top players. Shortstop Addison Barger, who was leading the league in OPS among qualifiers at .924, was promoted to Double-A last week. In addition, left-handed pitcher Ricky Tiedemann (2-2, 2.39 ERA, 12 walks and 54 strikeouts in 37.2 innings), ranked as Toronto’s No. 3 prospect and No. 63 overall by MLB.com, has reportedly also been promoted, though there’s been no official announcement.
First baseman Damiano Palmegiani (.934 OPS) has been an offensive force since being promoted to Vancouver a month ago, and right-hander Sem Robberse (4-4, 3.08 ERA, 22 walks and 61 strikeouts in 73 innings) has been the workhorse of the rotation.