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Monday, December 5, 2022

Mitch Keller Voted the Best Pitcher in the South Atlantic League

Baseball America continued their best tools series on Friday morning, covering High-A and Low-A. The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t have anyone from Bradenton make the list, but Mitch Keller got two mentions in the Low-A article.

Keller was voted by the managers and coaches in the South Atlantic League as the best pitcher, and the pitcher with the best control. The best control award is well deserved for his 14 walks over 101.1 innings pitched. That has led to him leading the SAL with an 0.96 WHIP. He also ranks sixth in the league with a 3.02 ERA, and seventh with 103 strikeouts.

Keller has struggled a bit recently, though he has also exceeded his innings from last year by a large margin, so that may be playing a factor. Due to forearm tightness near the end of Extended Spring Training last year, he only pitched 19.2 innings for Bristol. That doesn’t include innings thrown during Extended ST, or others thrown in the Fall Instructional League after the season, but that still falls well short of where he is already at this season with 101.1 innings.

Due to his overall improvements, which includes hitting 97 MPH with his fastball and showing better command, Keller moved up from 18th in our Prospect Guide, to fifth in our mid-season updated rankings. It should be noted that Keller issued more walks last year in 19.2 innings, than he has this season, so the improvements in that area are incredible, especially for a short time. He’s also doing that while throwing harder and mixing his off-speed pitches in more often.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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joe s

Not to be a downer but he is in low A ball. Let him do it in AA or higher before we get to excited about his future greatness.

J Nader

Agreed, he’s a long way away. But so were Glasnow and Taillon at one point. It’s nothing but a good thing that he’s performing this well so far with good stuff.

leefoo

Yeh, but how do the rest of the MLB teams view him? 🙂

RonHeb72

Jonathan Mayo from MLB Pipeline was on the Pregame last night (the only reason I watched it). They have Keller ranked pretty high too. I forget exactly what they said but made a comment of the fact he is ahead of where Glasnow was at this point of his career.

burghb

The other side of the “Glasnow’s size” coin is that he is pretty slow to the plate, although I suppose that can be taught/corrected whereas height cannot.

ajax2448

I believe Baseball America has him in the 50-55 range in their midseason top 100.

deacs

From a control standpoint I’d have to think so. Which is great. Watching guys like Taillon who walk very little is a treat so it’d be great to have another guy come through the system with that type of control. That being said Glasnow’s numbers in WV were pretty insane – basically a 1 WHIP and striking out a batter and a half an inning. But maybe Glasnow was doing it was his FB 95% of the time where as Keller has better use of other pitches. Maybe Mayo meant he was more advanced in that regard.

RonHeb72

Might be, I can’t remember exactly what he said just the one part that stood out was he said he was more advanced. I think John brings up a good point on why Keller may seem to be fading. He is way over his innings from last year so may just be wearing down some. Be exciting to see if he can repeat next year at Bradenton. Who knows could be in Altoona next year at some point.

deacs

As long as he pitches well. He’s put in the obligatory full year in WV as John and Tim would say. He could split a year in A and AA next year.

WardHolder

So right… Maybe Huntington can package him with John Jaso for a middle reliever with an ERA over 5!

frank baloh

too late, he’s to Yankees for Nova. lol

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