News: Yesterday, during the minor league games, the Pittsburgh Pirates saw two of their top prospects leave their games early.
Kevin Newman saw his game end early yesterday. In his first at-bat yesterday, Newman was struck in the face by a pitch from Richmond starter Sam Coonrod. Newman was behind in the count 0-2 when Coonrod missed up and in. The immediate thought was Newman may have a fractured orbital. This is an injury that has occurred a lot in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization over the last few years. In 2012, A.J. Burnett fractured his orbital during a bunting drill in Spring Training. Then, just last Spring, top prospect Austin Meadows also broke his orbital during a Spring Training workout. Fractured orbitals are hard to come back from for obvious reasons, and in general take 3-5 weeks to heal. Something that Newman already dealt with himself last year. Another injury like that would really set Newman back from what has been a relatively quick climb through the system.
Luckily, Newman is not seriously injured. He was sent to the hospital, but according to multiple websites, including milb.com, Newman only has a forehead contusion. Outside of a fractured orbital, the other worry was that he could have a concussion. Obviously, he was not hit in the orbital bone, but rather his forehead. Concussions are an injury that can be hard to get clear of, and once someone has one they are more likely to occur going forward. With all this being said, Newman, who is batting .267, should not miss extended time.
Mitch Keller may have had a bigger injury scare. Keller was on his way to a third straight dominant start when he was visited by the trainer. Keller worked easily through 4.2 innings, striking out four while giving up no runs. However, in the fifth inning he was removed from the game with the trainer inspecting Keller’s forearm. When one sees a young pitcher having his forearm looked at it sends up a red flag of potential Tommy-John Surgery. This is something that has happened to multiple young prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates system over the last few years including Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, and Clay Holmes. However, what was even more worrisome was that Keller had forearm tightness in 2015.
Once again, the Pittsburgh Pirates received good news regarding a potential bad situation. According to milb.com, Keller apparently was stung by a bee on his forearm. He tried to pitch through it, but it was too swollen and tight. Eventually, in the fifth, it reached the point that he felt he could not pitch effectively enough to go on. In a way, it is not good to try to pitch through an injury, but it also shows the confidence and competitiveness that Keller has to try to pitch through the adversity. Keller is not expected to miss any starts going forward. A big sigh of relief in what has been a bad news season for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the fan base.