Pirates Prospects Daily: Mitch Keller is Spectacular in Spring Training Opener

Realistically speaking, the only thing we should be hoping for from Spring Training is that every player makes it through healthy. 

The results aren’t nearly as important, especially in the first game, but regardless there were some interesting things to go on during the Pittsburgh Pirates first game against the Toronto Blue Jays, which they lost 9-7.

Mitch Keller was as good as you can be in two innings of work. He faced the minimum, with the lone single allowed erased on a double play that ended the first.

He picked up two strikeouts, threw 22 pitches, 16 of which were strikes. Baseball Savant credited him for throwing seven different pitches, fastball, sinker, slider, curveball, cutter, changeup and sweeper – which is a new pitch on the site.

The ‘sweeper’ had a spin rate of 2655 rpm, and had 37-inches of vertical break along with 18 of horizontal. Half of the ‘cutters’ he threw were either ‘called strikes’ or ‘whiffs’. 

I talked about Keller the other day, and how him starting on Saturday actually lines him up for Opening Day on March 30. He took the right step forward in solidifying that against Toronto. 

– Keller was fantastic, Roansy Contreras made it through his inning, but it was a different story for three players expected to make up part of the Pirates’ bullpen.

Jarlin Garcia, Duane Underwood Jr., and David Bednar allowed eight runs (seven earned) over their collective three innings of work. 

It’s not a horrible thing to have happen, if only as a reminder to try and not lean one way or another too hard this early – if at all – in Spring.

– Not sure what the weather was like in Bradenton on that day, but the Pirates’ bats brought a nice breeze at times. Not only did they strikeout 16 times, they also whiffed 26 times on 74 total swings (35%), with four players having at least three.

Liover Peguero had two of this six hardest hit baseballs in the game (107.4 and 104) and while he was credited with two singles, he ended up on second base on both instances. He also had a throwing error, which pretty much describes his 2022 season to a ‘T’. 

Getting Peguero back on the right track, after mostly being off season last year, would be huge. It feels like it gets lost in the mix to some just how well he started the season.

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**No game today. We will be posting the Spring Training lineups at the bottom of these Pirates Prospects Daily articles each day.

**Spring Training Recap: Blue Jays 9, Pirates 7 Pirates played a game yesterday that did not go well, though there were plenty of positives, as show above.

**An Early Pittsburgh Pirates 2023 Draft Preview Our draft coverage began this weekend. We will have a Monday update for the top college players, checking in to see how their weekend went.

**Pirates DVR: Elijah Birdsong Strikeout, Aaron Shortridge Live BP, Nick Gonzales At Third

**Pirates Prospects Daily: Finding Value In JT Brubaker For 2023, And Beyond

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.

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If Keller can get more consistent with first pitch strike, WTFO.


One of the best songs of all time


Coming down for st games has anyone seen a minor league st schedule


When are you coming down? Home games are tomorrow against Phillies, Monday against Orioles and Wednesday split squad against Yankees.


On the baseball savant page, looks like keller had the top velos of the game over 97 several times, but didnt make the swing and miss leaderboard at all so he mustve had under 2. He can be successful without a bunch of SO, but it does decrease his margin for error


2k’s in 6 PA’s

Very weak contact on 4 balls in play

It’s hard to do better than that

What’s the benefit of a swinging strike vs a looking strike?

It’s not obvious to me


swinging strikes are far “stickier”, right? Not much predictive power in strikes looking from the research I’ve read.


I don’t think that looked like 28″ of vertical break or even close. That pitch was a bit of a meatball, too.


I suppose it’s all relative (get it?) but the “with gravity” movement measurements aren’t intuitive to me either.


Second Base
Rodolfo Castro……..100%
Ji-Hwan Bae………….60%
Drew Maggi…………….5%
Nick Gonzalez…………0%
Termarr Johnson………0%
Castro is a lock to make the roster and the favorite for the majority of the 2B ABs. I’m assuming 13 hitters and 13 pitchers and have Bae as the 12th hitter. You would think Maggi has no chance until you realize just how few MIs there are in camp. With a couple of injuries, he could make it. Nick G will head to AAA. Termarr, we hardly knew ye…

b mcferren

Castro is the best second baseman in the NL central


And once again I’ll remind you of the guy in Cincy.


I remind you not only of India, but in St. Louis they have Brendan Donovan and Nolan Gorman, whoever wins the spot. Donovan is a much better fielder, winning a Gold Glove last year, and can hold his own with the bat. Gorman can be a 30 to 40 Home run hitter in the MLB. In Chicago you have Nico Hoerner moving over to 2B. He can hold his own with the bat, and should slot into second well. He was a good shortstop. He is just being moved off ss by one of the best shortstops in baseball.


Gorman = overrated.
Hoerner = flash in the pan

b mcferren



No, Cincinnati

b mcferren

they spell chile with an i there

b mcferren

why are wasting all this breathe talking about extending Reynolds, when Keller and Oneil are the ones who truly deserve out limited funds?

Last edited 1 month ago by b mcferren

The Pirates should not talk about extending Cruz or Keller yet. We need to see if Keller continues the success of last year, into this year, before you start talking extension. With Cruz, all I need say is Gregory Polanco.


I’m not sure if Keller will ever be a strike out pitcher, if he does he will be the Ace we’ve hope for, if he does he is a very good two and maybe more if he gets a a bump in ground out.

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