AFL Recap: Mitch Keller Starts Fall-Stars Game

The Arizona Fall League held their Fall-Stars game on Saturday night and Mitch Keller was the starting pitcher for the West team. Kevin Kramer would come into the game in the sixth inning. The East won 4-2.

Keller looked a little amped up to start the game, as he was a little wild and up in the zone the entire first inning. He walked two batters in the first and gave up an infield single to second base. The opposition stole three bases in three chances against him and that led to a run, but it was a combo of two issues. The catcher (Max Pentecost) had a chance to catch two of the runners but he bounced one throw and the other was well off-line on a play at third base. Keller also hasn’t been worrying about runners in the AFL. Runners were 19-for-31 against him during the regular season, which is slightly more steals than average, but a below average success rate, so he wasn’t bad at holding runners on during the season.

In the second inning, Keller really settled down and got two grounders back to him and a line out to right field to retire the side in order. He threw just 20 of his 38 pitches for strikes in his only two innings. Keller has been a dominating playoff pitcher, so I wouldn’t worry about him trying to do too much in big spots. He was also coming off of a five-inning outing on Monday in which he faced the minimum of 15 batters, with the only runner getting erased on a caught stealing. So if this was the first time you saw Keller, it wasn’t a great first look. The velocity was there, sitting 95-97, hitting 98 once. The curve wasn’t sharp and both changeups he threw were outside the zone.

Kevin Kramer was a defensive replacement in the bottom of the sixth. During the AFL season, he has only played shortstop, but he played second base on this day. In his only at-bat, he grounded out hard to first base. He didn’t have any chances in the field.

  • Any chance Keller arrives in Pittsburgh in late 2018 or early 2019?

    • I would say early June 2019 is the most likely, but I wouldn’t rule out late next year. He’s going to start in Altoona, so it’s just a matter of how fast they want to move him. Between six regular season starts in Altoona, two playoff games and the AFL, he’s getting some quality upper level experience this year, so he may not last long in Double-A in 2018.

      • dpowhitetiger
        November 5, 2017 9:01 pm

        I look for Keller to last a little longer at AA than some might think!

        • As I said, June 2019 is most likely for his MLB debut, so I would expect a mid-season promotion to Indianapolis to give him a half season there next year. I doubt he stays at Altoona longer than that unless he isn’t pitching well and every indication we have seen so far says he shouldn’t have trouble seeing Indy in June, 2018. They will probably want him to get about 20 Double-A starts total and he’s already at eight counting the playoffs. That’s how they normally operate, but if anyone can move faster, it’s Keller.

          It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what they will do because he is more advanced at this point in his career than any other pitcher in the system over the last nine years. Cole, Taillon, Glasnow were the biggest prospects coming through the system during that time and all had more work to do once they got to Altoona.

  • It’s hard not to get excited about Keller. Every time he moves up in level he handles it well, doing all the things he needs to do to succeed. He goes about his business the right way. In a way I’m glad to see him have the occasional off night because it’ll teach him to handle some of the inevitable lumps he’ll take once he gets to the bigs.