Pittsburgh Pirates: Mitch Keller Starting to Get on Track
The Pittsburgh Pirates top pitching prospect has had a slow start to his 2019 campaign. However, he is starting to get on track.
The Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect is right-handed starter Mitch Keller. Keller has been on the rise in recent years and has been rated as one of the top overall prospects in baseball over the last two seasons. He is Rum Bunter’s, MLB Pipeline, and Baseball America’s top-ranked prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He also is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the number 18 overall prospect in baseball.
The former second-round pick has gotten off to a bit of a rough start this year. He has struggled with his command in the early going and has not really gone very deep into games. In his first start of the season, the righty only made it through 4.2 innings. He gave up three runs, with two being earned, but walked five batters. He did show swing and miss stuff, generating six strikeouts, but obviously walking more than one per inning is way more glaring. Keller was lifted after throwing 90 pitchers.
Things did not get much better for Keller in his second start. The top prospect only made it through four innings and threw 86 pitches. This time Keller only walked one batter, but only struck out three. While his command was much better, he scattered eight hits across his innings of work and gave up three earned runs. This start left his ERA over 5.00 for the season.
However, sometimes it takes a rough performance to get players back on track. Keller has traditionally been a slow starter each year as well. Since his first two starts, the Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect has started to pitch more to the expectation that is set for him.
For his third start of the year, Keller pitched into the sixth inning, completing 5.1 total innings. He was a little more efficient throwing 92 total pitches, although still a little higher than one would like to see. This was mainly because he was falling behind hitters again. He walked a total of four batters, gave up seven hits, and only struck out five. The result was good in the end as he only gave up one run.
While his third start was much better than the first two, it still wasn’t one that fans are used to seeing from the right-hander. Yesterday, Keller had his best start of the season and looks like he is getting closer to showing why he is considered one of the top prospects in baseball. He finally completed the 6th innings in his start yesterday and did so with 92 pitches. He struck out a season-high eight batters and only walked three while only allowing two hits.
This looked more like the Mitch Keller that the Pittsburgh Pirates hope to see pitching at PNC Park soon. The good news is that the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation is the best in baseball right now and the team is not in need of an upgrade just yet. This is good, as this will give Keller more time to continue to refine his mechanics and command in Triple-A.