GSA Spotlight: Austin Peay's Lyle Miller-Green

Photo credit: Austin Peay Athletics

Stephanie Miller traveled thousands of miles to one of the coldest places on earth just to feel the warm embrace of a child who soon would become her adopted son.

“All I wanted was my baby boy,” said Miller, who in 2001 made the trek to the Siberian city of Tomsk, Russia for the adoption.

Fast forward two-plus decades, and that little Russian boy born with the name Oleg Sergevich Kornev is now know as Lyle Miller-Green, a star right fielder for Austin Peay.

“To my knowledge,” Miller-Green said, “I’m the only Russian-born baseball player in Division I.”

But Miller-Green is more than just a statistical oddity – he’s a star.

His 26 homers this season rank him tied with Florida’s Jac Caglianone and Morehead State's Roman Kuntz for second in D1 college baseball. Only Georgia's Charlie Condon, with 33, has more dingers.

“This past fall, we had every major league team represented at our scout day, and Lyle is hitting balls 475 feet to 490 feet in batting practice,” Austin Peay coach Roland Fanning said.

“When Lyle hits, everyone stops to watch. … I think he’s the best power hitter in all of college baseball.”

Miller-Green, a 6-6, 237-pounder, has come a long way – and not just because he was born in Russia.

In part because of his height, Miller-Green was initially viewed by scouts as a pitcher. In fact, it didn’t take long for Miller-Green to tower above his 5-foot-11 adoptive father and his 5-5 adoptive mother.

By the eighth grade, Miller-Green stood 6-foot-2. A couple of years after that, he committed to the Virginia Tech Hokies, who wanted him on the mound.

But, while he was still a high school junior, a coaching change happened at Virginia Tech, and the new staff cut his intended scholarship money, forcing Miller-Green to look elsewhere.

Over the final two years of his prep career at Lake Broddock High (Burke, Virginia), Miller-Green started to develop as a hitter.

“For how long his levers are, it took time to make the adjustment as a hitter,” said John Thomas, who coached Miller-Green at Lake Broddock. “He also started to fill out his frame.”

Thomas said he forced Miller-Green to put down his 33-inch bat and swing a 34 instead.

“After that change, Lyle started to stay behind the ball better,” Thomas said. “He was letting the ball travel more, and his power opened up to center and to right-center.

“He was hitting 450-foot shots in batting practice.”

Miller-Green hit five homers as a junior. As a senior, he slugged 12 homers and led Lake Broddock to its first state title in seven years.

“I hit him leadoff,” Thomas said. “I wanted him to get as many at-bats as possible.

“For the first time, he started to think of himself as a hitter first. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m a psychic, but I knew the bat was where it was at for Lyle.”

After high school, Miller-Green ended up playing for George Mason, located in Fairfax, Virginia – not far from Miller-Green’s home in Burke.

He spent just one season at George Mason – the COVID-shortened campaign of 2020. In 15 games that year, he emerged as a college hitter, producing a 1.011 OPS. He also made five pitching appearances, posting a 4.91 ERA.

Wanting to — as he put it — leave his “comfort zone” of Virginia, Miller-Green packed his bags for the state of Florida in 2021, playing for junior-college power Chipola. He hit .326 with three homers in 36 games that season.

The next stop was Oklahoma State for the 2022 season. Miller-Green played very little that season – just seven games, including five starts at DH.

As fate would have it, Fanning was on that Cowboys staff as the director of player development.

When Fanning was hired as Austin Peay’s head coach in the summer of 2022, he reached out to Miller-Green, who had said he was going to put his name into the transfer portal.

A deal was made, Fanning said, with no NIL money.

“I just said, ‘Hey bud, let’s go there, and you can play every day,’” Fanning recalled. “He didn’t take a visit. We kept it simple.

“He wanted to come to a school where he could trust the coach would give him the playing time he needed to develop.”

Fanning kept his word.

In 2023 at Austin Peay – Miller-Green’s fifth school in five years, counting high school – there was a breakout. Miller-Green started all 58 of Austin Peay’s games as the team’s DH. He also started 13 games on the mound.

Miller-Green led the Governors in batting average (.354), homers (16), multi-hit games (25) and RBIs (51). In five games against Top 25 teams — Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State and Tennessee — Miller-Green raised his level even higher, batting .375.

Although Miller-Green is not regarded as an MLB pitching prospect, he does have a strong right arm capable of reaching 95 mph. His pitching stats in 2023 included a 1-6 record and an 8.88 ERA.

This year, Miller-Green has led the Govs to a 30-17 record. In fact, the Govs have a winning record across the board, including 16-8 in the Atlantic Sun Conference, 17-6 at home and 13-11 on the road.

The Govs lead the nation in batting average (.359), runs (491), doubles (121) and homers (128). They are also No. 1 in slugging (.688) and on-base percentage (.456).

“I want to go to the College World Series, and I want to win the whole damn thing,” said Miller-Green, a 23-year-old who earned his Bachelor’s degree in Leadership this past December.

“People will laugh. But we have the team.

“Why not us?”

Miller-Green has started all 47 of Austin Peay’s games this season, batting .380 with 77 RBIs and a 1.418 OPS (third in the nation behind Condon and Oregon State's Travis Bazzana).

Fanning said Miller-Green has fared well in the wooden-bat Cape Cod League, hitting over .300 for two straight years. In fact, Fanning said Miller-Green won Cape Cod’s Home Run Derby in 2022.

“He’s big enough to be a Division I tight end,” Fanning said. “We’re lucky to have him play baseball for us.”

Miller-Green has hit a number of massive homers, including a 496-footer at Lipscomb that rang up an exit velocity of 118 mph.

He also hit a shot off the clock at Auburn that traveled 468 feet.

Former Auburn pitcher Gregg Olson – who now calls games for the SEC Network – said Miller-Green’s shot was the hardest-hit ball he’s seen on The Plains since Bo Jackson last played for the Tigers 38 years ago.

Jackson was immortalized in “The Last Folk Hero”, a book by Jeff Pearlman, and perhaps Miller-Green will reach that type of status, too.

In fact, maybe Miller-Green’s story becomes a movie one day.

Miller-Green’s earliest memories revolve around air travel. As a kid, he would say he was “born on Delta.”

Stephanie Miller, a retired assistant U.S. attorney, said her son was fascinated by planes.

“He knew we had flown to go adopt him,” Miller said. “That made him love planes. He could pick out the different airlines.”

Miller is Jewish, and she raised her son that way, too. Miller-Green went to a Jewish private school until the third grade, and he is interested in some day traveling to Israel.

Sadly, his adoptive father, Richard, died of a heart attack on Sept. 9, 2023. Richard was 74.

“Lyle was devastated,” Miller said.

Miller-Green’s teammates, though, rallied to support him. By the time Miller-Green returned to campus following his dad’s funeral, his teammates had all written him loving postcards, placing them on his dorm-room bed. The players also called and texted Miller-Green every day during the two weeks he spent away from campus.

That type of affection displayed for Miller-Green would come as no surprise to his high school coach.

“I’ve coached big leaguers,” Thomas said, “but I have never seen a kid as universally adored as Lyle.”

Miller-Green, by all accounts, has tremendous poise, handling all the ups and downs of his life.

Another big moment came last summer, when he finally got his first chance to read what is known as a “letter of abandonment”, which gave at least some details regarding his adoption.

“I didn’t know the letter existed until recently,” Miller-Green said. "(The document listed his biological mother’s) name, address and age.

“Being adopted has never had a negative impact on me. I’ve lived a great and lucky life.

“I’ve had great family support. My parents put food on our table, clothes on my back and a roof over my head. I will be forever grateful to them.”

Miller brought home her son just one week prior to the 9-11 attacks. Had the adoption not happened when it did, this story likely would never have taken place.

The U.S., after all, shut down flights immediately following the attack. By the time flights resumed, who knows what would have happened to that small child who was being kept in poor conditions in Russia, according to his mother.

For his part, Miller-Green is certainly thrilled the way things worked out with his adoptive family.

“Had I stayed in Russia, I never would’ve played baseball,” Miller-Green said. “I still think of what would’ve been had I not been so lucky.” is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.