Pirates Prospects Daily: Mitch Keller Gets Nod First Spring Game… Opening Day?

We got our first bit of news when it comes to actual games that will be played, as the Pirates get their Spring Training schedule underway on Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Mitch Keller will get the nod to start things off, coming off a breakout season in which he threw a career high 159 innings, posting a 3.91 ERA in the process. After years and years of hoping he’d put it all together, the inclusion of a sinker was what ultimately made the difference.

Now he will look to build on to that and become an established major league pitcher like the organization has always hoped.

While this doesn’t guarantee him to also be the Opening Day starter, looking at how the schedule unfolds, it does map out for him to be on regular rest when the Pirates play the Cincinnati Reds on March 30th.

Keller was the team’s second pick back in 2014, and up till last season when a few adjustments to the pitches he was throwing in the middle of the year helped him take off.

The next step will to be find consistency, and his 3.99 xFIP, along with finding a way to bring the strikeout rate back over 20% will help with that.

With the additions of Rich Hill and Vince Velasquez, as well as prospects Quinn Priester, Luis Ortiz and Mike Burrows waiting in the wings, the rotation is looking to be more and more of a strength potentially.

The hope is that Keller would always end up being a strong contributor on a competitive team, and everything looks in place for him to get that opportunity.

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**In the latest Roundtable, we all predict which pitchers will throw the most innings for the Pirates in 2023.

**The latest Pirates DVR has a few videos from yours truly in my first day of coverage this year. Highlighted in today’s article are Braeden Ogle, Blake Cederlind, and Mitchell Miller.

**Baseball America released their top 30 prospects.

**John Dreker averaged out the top prospect rankings from around the industry.

**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at the latest injury update and the pitching depth that’s on the way.

Song of the Day

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Off topic, and take it for what it’s worth considering the source, but DK said he spoke to Reynolds, Cherington, and Nutting, and all 3 want the same thing with regard to extension/trade decision. He went on to say he has never seen a deal not get done when both player and management want to do a deal.

If you believe what he says to be true, and you want to see BR sign an extension, you should be happy reading this.


I can’t be the only person obsessively checking every MLB app notification in hopes that it’s an extension announcement. RIGHT?!?!


You are not alone. Been looking all day for it haha 😂

b mcferren

I always wondered why catchers dont have the advantage to be better hitters (or at least higher on base percentage) because the see so many pitches and should have that much better of a batter´s eye as a result

is standing sideways at the side of the plate that much of a different perspective than squatting behind the plate?


Physically demanding position, mentally demanding too.


As hitters, they don’t know what’s coming. They get fooled just like every other position player.


Third Base
Ke’Bryan Hayes……100%
Jared Triolo……………30%
Miguel Andujar………10%
Hayes will man 3rd nearly every day. I currently have Triolo on the outside looking in. But I have that kid might make it. If Hayes or one of the 1B get hurt, it may open a door for Andujar.

b mcferren

what about Malcolm?


Had him in the 1B list yesterday. With only a 5% chance to make the Opening Day roster.

Last edited 1 month ago by hoptown

Better option than Andujar, but he’s like the 5th option at best.

b mcferren

Hayes hits 600ops again by June, I wont be the only one calling for a change

Last edited 1 month ago by b mcferren

I second that, if Triolo continues his hitting ways, and is already an established top defensive 3rd baseman……you can’t hold him back by having Hayes there.

Once Endy comes up, and pushes Hedges to the back up catcher, this line up has the potential to be solid from the top to the bottom, depending on how Hayes is hitting.

b mcferren

Endy can play 3rd base too, no?


This is Castro’s best position, I could see him getting the 10% you gave to Andujar who should not get any reps there!


True. But I’m going for odds of making the Opening Day roster, not reps. Castro will be 100% to make the roster on tomorrow’s 2nd base list!


I get it, I was obviously thinking playing time!


FanGraphs came out with their annual Picks to Click article, always a favorite of mine.

Buccos are well represented, with Bubba and Yordany de los Santos getting the nod.

Not to focus on a potential negative, but what separates Henry Davis from Austin Wells?


Looks like a lot of it comes down to raw power and the arm.


Davis has more power and a worse OBP. If Hank doesn’t put up a healthy, productive year where he looks like a catcher I could see him off the Top 100 next year like Wells, though.

Scam likely

Lots of bonus dollars


10 True or False:
*Keller is home opening day starter but not actual opening day starter
*Travis Swaggerty turns heads in Spring and wins roster spot over Mitchell/CSN/Vilade
*Bae finishes Top 5 Rookie of Year
*Bubba Chandler makes multiple mid-season Top 50 prospect lists
* Derek Shelton receives a 1-year contract extension
*After Holderman, Yerry, & Stephenson emerge as effective late inning firemen, the Huntington playbook is dusted off & Bednar is traded at Deadline
*Priester & Burrows struggle AAA delaying call-ups
*Hayes hits 20 home runs
*Velasquez is moved to bullpen by Memorial Day
*Bryan Reynolds & Pirates reach agreement on 7 years/$100m

Last edited 1 month ago by Cobra

1*Keller TRUE
2*Travis Swaggerty FALSE
4*Bubba Chandler TRUE
5* Derek Shelton TRUE
6* Bednar FALSE
7*Priester & Burrows FALSE
8*Hayes hits 20 home runs FALSE
9 Velasquez TRUEi
10*Bryan Reynolds FALSE

  1. either way
  2. TRUE
  3. True
  4. True
  5. false
  6. false
  7. false
  8. true
  9. True or piggyback starter
  10. True

This is fun!

  1. true
  2. false
  3. false
  4. tough one. It’s certainly possible, but I don’t see it
  5. false
  6. YDLS struggled in leverage. I think Stephenson will surprise and Bednar is false
  7. I don’t think either of them will be early call-ups. Maybe after the ASB
  8. True – Hayes has gained 15 lbs of pure muscle
  9. False – I think they’ve identified something in VV and he and Stephenson will be big surprises
  10. I don’t know about the #’s, but, yes, Reynolds will get an extension…I’m guessing before Opening Day.

Hayes could gain 100lbs of pure muscle and if he doesn’t get more lift to his swing, he’d still hit 6hr.


You should’ve numbered these! But this is great!
F, Keller is currently their best pitcher
T. Because I want this to be true
F. Not good enough, may not even be a starter
T. As long as he’s a full time pitcher
F. This is mean
F. Would be a PR nightmare since he does so much around town
F. Too talented, easy mid rotation starters
F. Will required a massive swing change and we would have heard it by now
T. Easy
T. Might be a mistake, but rumblings from Mackey that is heading that way.

Last edited 1 month ago by PirateRican21

1. F
2. F
3. F
4. T
5. F
6. T
7. F
8. T
9. T
10. F

Scam likely

True yea keller starts in cin.false nope swag is pretty far down the list false Endy splits vote, true break out for bubba, false they reevaluate after the year. Maybe, closers are fungible if the right offer come up.false AAA is really not much tougher than AA.false Hayes first has to get 10 hr, it real hard for righties to hit hr in PNC.false VV Becomes the Joey bats of his generation, always had good stuff and now learns how to pitch.false 7/124 would get it done.

Last edited 1 month ago by Scam likely

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