Team Rookie of the Year – Mitch Keller
The Pirates don’t have much rookie fire power that will be starting the season with the club, so my choice for their best rookie would be Mitch Keller. A top pitching prospect in baseball that has a legitimate chance to get the call to Pittsburgh this summer.
With the Pirates quest in finding a 5th starter in the rotation, Keller could find his way in that spot by June. As of right now it is looking as if Jordan Lyles has the upper hand in winning that spot, but with his track record he is more of a bullpen arm. Nick Kingham has had flashes of decency at the big league level last year, but he obviously has room to improve.
Keller did struggle this spring to the tune of a 22.50 ERA in 4 innings pitched. He gave up a lot of hard contact as well as home runs. At AAA he boasted a 4.82 ERA in 10 games started last season as well. There is an obvious need for him to go back to Indianapolis and put in more time there to grow before he is called up.
I believe that he will be needed much earlier than expected due to the uncertainty of the Pirates 5th starter position. Unless they sign a guy like Dallas Keuchel, or Lyles and/or Nick Kingham can shine, it looks like Keller’s arrival is closer than expected.