Former Warrior Beau Mills prepares for Double-A
Sights set high for Tribe prospect
First baseman Mills ready to take next step at Double-A Akron
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Beau Mills thought his first full season of pro ball was an adjustment period.
Then he got married.
Talk about adjustments.
"You've got someone else in the house that also has needs that you have to tend to," a smiling Mills said of his wife, Alicia. "And most of the time, what she says goes."
Mills, a first baseman, is just fine with that setup, and he's equally pleased with his current standing in the Indians organization. Coming off an '07 season in which he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Carolina League, the 22-year-old Mills appears to be on the fast track to the big leagues.
Of course, he knows that track can derail at any time, which is why he's focused solely on what's waiting for him at Double-A Akron this season.
"I'm one of those guys who tries not to set a timeline for myself," he said. "I'm excited to go to Double-A and see what I do there. I can only take it one step, one day at a time. Being here in Arizona helps out. I'm definitely very excited where I'm at right now."
The Indians grabbed Mills with the 13th overall selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft after he put up video-game-type numbers at Lewis-Clark State in his junior season. He batted .458 with 100 runs, 22 doubles, 38 homers and 123 RBIs in just 62 games that year.
What stood out to scouting director John Mirabelli was the way Mills took a professional approach to each at-bat, even as he knew the opposition would pitch around him.
"He had a lot of raw power, but he didn't sell out his ability to hit the other way," Mirabelli said. "People see the raw power, but they don't give him enough credit for his approach as a hitter."
Mills only ended up at the NAIA school because of academic and team code-of-conduct issues that earned him a suspension at Fresno State. But the Indians were never concerned about his past, and he demonstrated maturity at Lewis-Clark that proved he had learned from his mistakes.
He also had a mature bat -- one the Indians felt would have little trouble transitioning to the Minor Leagues. And last season Mills proved them right.
After opening some eyes in his first big league camp last spring, Mills got off to a bit of a slow start at Class A Kinston. But he got hot in the second half, batting .332 with 11 doubles, 10 homers and 40 RBIs in 49 games from July 1 through the end of the season. He finished with a .293 average, an organization-high 21 homers, 90 RBIs and an .880 OPS.
"I was really happy with my second half," Mills said. "It took me a whole first half to learn how to make adjustments back to the pitchers when they make adjustments on you. Now it should take me a couple games or a week."
Early last season, the Indians put an end to Mills' part-time tenure at third base. A shoulder injury Mills suffered in college caused long-term limitations on his throwing skills, so the Tribe felt it was best to leave him at first base full-time.
"He still didn't necessarily have 100 percent of his arm [strength], and the potential of how quickly his offense can advance him in his career decided that first base was best for him," farm director Ross Atkins said. "And he was very comfortable with it."
Mills is pretty comfortable here at big league camp, as well. This is his second exposure to this environment, and he said he feels much more at ease this time around.
Then again, Mills might have the worst seat in the Indians' elliptical clubhouse. He's the Wal-Mart greeter, of sorts, positioned in the last stall, right next to the entrance.
"I can say good morning to everybody who comes in and say goodbye to everybody who goes out," he said with a laugh.
At some point in camp, Mills will be sent out. Then it's off to Akron, where he'll continue this game of adjustments with last year's lessons firmly tucked away.
"I feel the pitches will be more around the zone, which makes me more excited," he said. "You'll have more pitches to hit. The ball might move more, but those are the small adjustments you have to make. The more balls around the zone, the better off you're going to be."