It is that time of the year again! MLB Pipeline is starting to put out their top prospect lists, which includes their positional rankings. The Pittsburgh Pirates will have plenty of prospects from their minor league clubs making appearances on these lists.
Starting off, MLB Pipeline released their Top Ten Right Handed Pitching Prospect list. Entering the 2016 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates only had one righty ranked in the top 10. This was Tyler Glasnow, who ranked number 2 overall behind Lucas Giolito. The name missing from last year’s list was former number 2 overall pick, Jameson Taillon. The reason being, he was returning from Tommy John surgery and hernia surgery. Many scouts did not know how he would respond to missing essentially two years of competitive baseball. However, he did receive an honorable mention.
This year, Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Tyler Glasnow found himself ranked number two overall on the list. He was the only Pittsburgh Pirates righty pitching prospect to be ranked. Many thought rising prospect Mitch Keller would have a shot to make the top ten rankings. However, Keller has only a few appearances at the Double-A level. All the pitchers ranked are as close to MLB ready as can be.
Mitch Keller did earn himself an honorable mention on the Top Ten List. He was called the next prospect up. This likely suggests that he will move into number ten once Alex Reyes and/or Tyler Glasnow lose their prospect status. Also, it takes into account that he is a little further away in terms of youthfulness, and that if he continues his success he will be on the list by mid-season. Here is what MLB Pipeline had to say on the 2014 second round pick:
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"After missing much of 2015 with a forearm strain, Mitch Keller saw his prospect stock skyrocket last season as he earned Most Outstanding Pitcher honors in the Class A South Atlantic League before making two eye-opening postseason starts for the Florida State League champion Bradenton Marauders. A second-round Draft pick in 2014, he has the makings of three average-or-better pitches, including a heavy mid-90s fastball and a swing-and-miss curveball, with control to boot."
Keller showed just about the best command out of any minor league pitcher last year. Keller struck out 147 hitters while only walking 24, giving him a 22 percent strikeout to walk percentage. Keller finished up his dominant career by throwing eight shutout innings for High-A Bradenton during their Championship series. This was great to see, as Keller continued his success against more advanced hitters, including one of the top teams at the level.
Mitch Keller will start the year in High-A Bradenton this season. Last year he only threw 19.1 innings, but he did have strong results in those innings. If he comes out and continues his strong command and success at High-A, he likely will get bumped to Double-A quickly. It is also really good to see the people at MLB Pipeline being very high on Keller, not just Pittsburgh Pirates fans. Keller likely will be a top 50 prospect entering this season, and most likely will be on the Top Ten righty pitchers list by mid-season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates did not have any prospect make the LHP Top Ten List.