Pittsburgh Pirates Grapefruit League Game 10: Mitch Keller Takes The Ball


The tenth game of Grapefruit League play will see the Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect take the mound once again

Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates will play their second home game at LECOM Park in Brandenton in as many days. After defeating the Yankees by a score of 8-7 on Saturday afternoon, the 4-4-1 Pirates will host the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday afternoon.

The team’s top prospect – starting pitcher Mitch Keller – will make the start for the Bucs. While Keller is ticketed for Triple-A to start the season, Pirate fans will see him in Pittsburgh at some point in 2019. This will make keeping tabs on Sunday’s game worthwhile.

Sunday will be Keller’s second start of the Grapefruit season. His first start did not go well as Keller allowed two runs on three hits in just one inning of work. Keller will be looking for better results against Tampa Bay.

Six other pitchers are scheduled to pitch behind Keller. These pitchers are Clay Holmes, Kyle Crick, Nick Burdi, Aaron Slegers, Geoff Hartlieb, and Elvis Escobar.

The two big names here are Crick and Burdi. After an excellent 2018 season (2.89 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 25.5% strikeout rate) Crick will be one of Clint Hurdle‘s go to relievers in high leverage situations this season. Sunday afternoon will be Crick’s second appearance this spring.

As for Burdi, the young righty must make the Opening Day roster and remain on the active roster for at least 60 days or else the Pirates will have to return him to the Minnesota Twins. This is due to Burdi being selected in the Rule 5 Draft last offseason, but only spending the month of September on the active roster after recovering from Tommy John Surgery. So far this spring Burdi has flashed the wicked slider and power fastball that once made him a top prospect in the Twin Cities, right now, odds are, Burdi will be part of the Opening Day roster.

After bouncing back and forth between Triple-A and the MLB level in 2018, Holmes will start the season at Triple-A and will work as both a starting pitcher and a reliever. Like Holmes, Slegers could pitch both as a starter and in relief for Indianapolis. Hartlieb is a reliever that we pegged as a prospect worth watching this spring.

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First pitch form LECOM Park is scheduled for 1:05 PM on Sunday. You can listen to the game on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, as well as pirates.com or on the MLB At Bat App.