Pittsburgh Pirates: Arizona Fall League Final Recap

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Pirates AFL Pitchers
(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images) /

As mentioned on the last slide, the Pittsburgh Pirates had four pitching prospects playing for Glendale.  The group was made up of top prospects Mitch Keller and Taylor Hearn, and two future bullpen candidates in Brandon Waddell and JT Brubaker.  All four pitchers performed very well and definitely look like they could potentially help the Pittsburgh Pirates as soon as next season.

Mitch Keller

Mitch Keller is obviously the pride and joy of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects. Also, he most likely will push to be a top ten prospect in all of baseball next season.  He put together a really good case to be in the Fall League. The former second-round pick had a record of 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA.  The righty made six starts and threw 23.2 innings.  He had 13 strikeouts and five walks.  The low strikeout number may have been a product of what he was working on.  According to Jonathan Mayo, Keller was working on his changeup more this fall.  He wanted to get more comfortable with it, and in doing so, the pitch induced more weak contact and groundouts compared to punching hitters out. Regardless, his numbers were still overly impressive and he looked nearly unhittable.

Taylor Hearn

Taylor Hearn is the biggest wild card in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization right now.  The hard-throwing lefty has a fastball that can hit triple digits.  The question is whether he will be a starter or reliever at the big league level. It seems that was the question in the Fall League too as he made eight appearances with four of them being starts.  He took home an ERA of 3.06 in his 17.2 innings of work.  He struck out 14 batters but also walked eight.  His walk rate is the biggest concern and why many think Hearn will end up in the bullpen.  Still, with his strikeout stuff, he could be an elite bullpen arm.

Waddell and Brubaker

The other two most likely will be full time in the Triple-A bullpen next year.  Both Waddell and Brubaker pitched mainly out of the bullpen this fall.  The only exception is Waddell did make one spot start.  Waddell, a lefty, appeared in nine total games. He fired off 14 innings and posted a really impressive ERA of 2.57. He struck out 15 batters and only walked four.   Meanwhile, Brubaker threw in eight games, all were in relief.  The big righty put up numbers almost as impressive as Waddell’s.  The former Akron Zip ended the season with a 2.63 ERA in 13.2 innings.  He struck out 16 while only walking two.