Tyler Miller, a senior standout at Fort Mill High School, has announced that he will continue his academic and baseball careers at the University of South Carolina Upstate.
The speedy right-hander should provide immediate depth for the Spartans and be able to contribute in his first season.
Miller has had a well-distinguished career for the Yellow Jackets. He hit a home run in his first varsity at bat in the ninth grade and has been named to the Charlotte Observer All-Upper-South-Carolina team and The Herald included him on the All-Area team last season. He has been invited to the USA Youth National Trials and the Tournament of Stars and has twice been selected for the Under Armor Pre Season All-American Team.
Miller has been playing for the South Charlotte Panthers the past two seasons. The team is a collection of the best talent in the region and Miller made an impact from the beginning.
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"He has been nothing short of outstanding athletically and as a young man; He is just a great kid," said Panthers head coach Don Hutchins. "From the outset he has been far and above our standards, we recognized him as a top baseball talent and he has been a consistent leader for us."
Miller, who attributes a great deal of his success to Hutchins, said his strengths lie in his ability to hit for a high average while still being able to hit for power. In the outfield, he has the ability to read the ball off of the bat and routinely gets a good jump on the ball.
"He is one of our top hitters and bats at the top of a lineup filled with some of the region's best players," Hutchins said. "He is a contact guy who drives the ball to all fields. He has a high skill level and has a good baseball background."
Miller trains five days a week trying to improve his speed, agility and overall skill. He also maintains the Panthers' high standards of academics, which include a mandatory 3.0 grade-point average as well as having on the field skill.
"Academics are number one on the list for me and they always have been," Miller said. "It goes academics first and then baseball is second."
Other colleges from around the country noticed him and showed some interest, but Miller and his family decided USC Upstate was the best fit. He was recruited by Arizona, Wingate, South Carolina and Louisiana State among others, but fell in love with the campus and what it offered him.
"I feel it was the best opportunity for me," Miller said. "I felt as soon as I walked on the campus I just knew that it was the perfect fit."
Miller is excited for his opportunity to play in college and plans to take his baseball career as far as he can. Those around him think that he is ready for the challenge.
"He has the motor and the natural ability and he has physically matured over the last couple of seasons," said Providence High School and South Charlotte Panthers coach Danny Hignight. "He can hit for average and he can go get the ball; all of the tools are there and he is a plus player."
Miller's father, Michael, coached him for several seasons as he was growing up. He has seen first hand the improvements that his son made along the way.
"Tyler has worked very hard to establish himself," Michael Miller said. "He does it through his own desire and hard work and he has really committed himself."
Hutchins has seen the improvements and the strides that he has made in their time together. Hutchins said Miller always had great speed, but was sometimes not putting it to the best use. He has improved that and led the Panthers in stolen bases and assists from the outfield this past season.
This year, Miller will be looked at to anchor the Yellow Jackets before he moves on the collegiate level. He said he leads by example and tries to be friends with everyone and tell them how they can improve. With one season left, Miller said he hopes that he leaves his mark on the Fort Mill program.
"I hope to be a team leader and guide the underclassmen," Miller said. "I won't play with any less desire than I would if I didn't already have a scholarship."
Miller wants to immediately impact the Spartans program and be a constant contributor for the next four seasons.
"He has become a lot stronger of a hitter and has improved his game in the last two-and-a-half seasons with us," Hutchins said. "He has improved all around and he has worked extremely hard. I expect him to do well and be the kind of kid who is a big time leader for the next few years."