Hillcats’ Miller Named Carolina League Player of the Week

Lynchburg’s Anthony Miller lived on the base paths over the final week of the 2018 Carolina League schedule, earning him the league’s Player of the Week award for games played between August 27 and September 3.

The 23-year-old first baseman took home his first professional award on Tuesday after a solid week at the plate that saw him go 16-for-35 (.457) with a pair of walks to boast a .513 on-base percentage in the eight days. In the nine games played by the Hillcats in that stretch, he hit six doubles, knocked two balls over the fence, scored four times, and drove in eleven. He hit safely in all nine games played to put together a season-high nine-game hitting streak, and the stretch included an impressive 5-for-5 day on August 31 against the Red Sox, when he finished just a triple short of the cycle in Lynchburg’s 8-0 win over Salem.

The Hillcats kicked off a four-game series at home against the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Monday. Miller hit eighth and played first base and reached base safely twice with a second inning walk and a sixth inning single. Lynchburg dropped a tough 4-3 final despite getting the tying run to third base in the bottom of the ninth with only one out.

Miller had his first of two two-hit games against the Blue Rocks this past week on Tuesday. He went 2-for-5 with a single and a double and added a pair of runs batted in while hitting sixth and playing designated hitter. He hit Lynchburg’s fourth first inning double of the game to drive in the fourth run of the inning and he nearly became the fifth run to score, but he was thrown out by Wilmington’s left fielder trying to score from second on a single by Jorma Rodriguez. He grounded into a double play in the third and struck out in the fifth, but as the seventh of nine sixth inning batters in a big inning by the Hillcats, he knocked in Nolan Jones with a single off of the glove of the Blue Rocks’ second baseman. He reached on a two-out error in the eighth that led to an unearned run crossing the plate and Lynchburg held on for a 10-7 win.

He had his second consecutive two-hit game on Wednesday, but the Hillcats dropped a tough 6-5 final. He had a pair of singles in the fourth and sixth innings, but was stranded at third each frame. He struck out in his other three plate appearances on the day.

With the hopes of a series split, the Hillcats were blanked 5-0 in Thursday’s home finale. Miller went 1-for-2 and reached base three times via second inning one-out single, a walk in the seventh, and a hit by pitch in the bottom of the ninth with two down.

Miller hit .400 with a .500 OBP in the series with Wilmington with six hits, two walks, and two RBI.

Lynchburg hit the road for five games against rival Salem on Friday to close out the regular season and Miller provided a game he will not forget. Hitting in the middle of the Lynchburg lineup, he helped pace the Hillcats to an 8-0 shutout victory with a 5-for-5 day at the plate. He scored twice and provided half of the ‘cats run production on the night. He started his big day right away with a single in the second inning before being forced out at second. He hit the Hillcats’ second straight double in the fourth to knock in Trenton Brooks to make it a 2-0 Lynchburg lead. He was back up again the next inning as the seventh man to bat and he knocked in Brooks again on his seventh home run of the season, making it a 7-0 contest. He stepped back into the box in the seventh and made it 8-0 on his eighth homer of the year and he singled in the ninth before being stranded at third.

The Hillcats captured their second straight win over Salem with a 9-3 win in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Miller went 1-for-4 on the day, popping up in his first at bat before hitting an RBI-double and later coming in to score in a five-run third inning. He struck out in each of his last two at bats. He was 1-for-3 in the nightcap, a 4-3 Hillcats loss on a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh. He grounded out and struck out in his first two at bats, but his two-run double in the top of the sixth tied the game and he scored the go-ahead run later in the inning on a Jose Medina two-out two-base hit.

Miller hit cleanup on Sunday in Lynchburg’s 3-1 win, going 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of strikeouts. He tried to get the scoring started early in the contest, doubling N. Jones to third with two outs in the inning, but teammate Austen Wade struck out looking to leave a pair in scoring position in what would prove to be a close game. He was hit by a pitch to start the fourth, but was forced out to end the inning. He singled with one on in the sixth, but was stranded at third in the tie game. He struck out in his final two at bats in the eighth and ninth innings.

In the regular season finale on Labor Day Monday, he once again had a big contribution to the offense in a 3-2 win over the Red Sox. After striking out in the first, flying out in the fourth, and grounding into a double play to end the sixth, he stepped up to the plate trailing 2-1 with the bases loaded after Salem reliever Kevin McAvoy walked the first batter and hit two more by pitches. Miller drove a double to right that plated both Mitch Longo and Brooks to put the Hillcats up, 3-2. Jared Robinson and Dalbert Siri closed out the win as Lynchburg prepared for its postseason battle with Potomac.

On the season, Miller worked in 74 regular season games for the Hillcats, putting together a .264/.363/.432 slash at the plate with 16 doubles, one triple, eight homers, and 30 RBI. The left-handed hitter flourished against right-handers, slashing .302/.402/.513 with all eight of his homers and 14 of his 16 doubles, but had his difficulties against southpaws, putting up a .148/.235/.180 line against them.

Photo: Lindsay Carico/Lynchburg Hillcats

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