Mitch Keller
22-Year-Old PitcherRP
Pittsburgh Pirates AAA
2019 Fantasy Outlook
The Pirates continued their slow, methodical approach to Keller's development in 2018. Keller encountered little resistance at any point during his time with Double-A Altoona -- he allowed more than three runs just twice in 14 starts -- but nonetheless the team waited until the final day of June to bump him up to the next level. While the results took a turn for the worse after the leap to Triple-A, the peripherals were fine (24.2 K%, 0.52 HR/9). Keller's walk rates haven't been especially good at the higher levels, but he commands the fastball well. Fastball command is something a lot of young arms struggle with upon arrival to the big leagues, but that shouldn't be too much of a concern with Keller. He can keep the ball on the ground and the strikeout totals should be useful, if unexciting. Considering his path to this point, it seems likely that Keller will spend much of the first half back at Triple-A before finally cracking the big-league rotation. Read Past Outlooks
Shielded from Rule 5 draft
PPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
November 20, 2018
Keller's contract was selected from Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports.
Keller was added to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 protection. He appears to be closing in on a promotion to the big leagues, especially after getting called up to Triple-A at the end of June last year. Keller posted a 4.82 ERA with 57 punchouts over 52.1 frames (10 starts) with Indy and could make his major-league debut in 2019.
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Mitch Keller
Mound Musings: The Kids on Parade Watch List for 2019
141 days ago
Brad Johnson ends the season with his favorite column about MLB’s up and coming pitchers, including Alex Reyes, who, Johnson says, when healthy, is a beast on the mound.
Mound Musings: See You in September
169 days ago
Brad Johnson helps navigate this tricky time of year by highlighting pitchers who are worth keeping an eye on during the season’s final month, like Michael Wacha, who’s September outlook is a bit murky.
Farm Futures: Ranking the Farm Systems
197 days ago
James Anderson unveils his second annual farm system rankings and is a little surprised at how high Vlad Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays have risen.
Mound Musings: Looking to the Future
211 days ago
Last Sunday, Brad Johnson had the chance to watch the Futures Game and analyze a few of the top quality young arms, including the Braves’ Kyle Wright.
The Z Files: NL Rotation Overview
225 days ago
Todd Zola concludes his tour of big-league depth charts with a look at rotations in the National League, including a more charitable view of the Rockies' recent demotion of Jon Gray.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
Keller commands one of the best fastballs in the minors -- a mid-90s weapon with late life that can miss bats in and out of the zone. The pitch is so good that it’s all he needs to get through a minor-league lineup once and sometimes even twice. He also features a potentially plus curveball that works as an out pitch, but his changeup lags well behind as a fringe offering. His top two pitches and excellent command will carry him to the majors, but he needs to improve his changeup to reach his ceiling as a top-of-the-rotation horse. A back strain caused him to throw fewer innings in 2017 than in 2016, but he went to the Arizona Fall League to build up his innings in advance of what is likely to be his final season in the minors. He had a chance to generate a lot of hype in the AFL, a la Brent Honeywell last season, but evaluators weren’t particularly impressed by his showing, even though the stats were impressive.
The Pirates 2016 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Keller compiled a 9-5 mark with a 2.35 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 130.1 innings split between Low-A and High-A. Perhaps even more impressively, he posted a 138:19 K:BB. The 20-year-old didn't allow a single run in six of his last seven starts, including two postseason outings. He offers a mid-90s fastball, above-average curveball and a solid changeup that serves as his third-best pitch. He struggled with his control as a rookie in 2015 (16 walks in 19.2 innings) but control wasn't an issue last year. Additionally, he managed to stay healthy in 2016 after forearm issues sidelined him for most of his second professional season. Keller will likely start 2017 at High-A Bradenton with a potential midseason move to Double-A. The 2014 second-round pick is as exciting as organization mate Tyler Glasnow, but for different reasons. Glasnow's top selling point is his ceiling while Keller's is his mid-rotation floor.
A second-round pick in 2014, Keller appeared in only 19.2 innings for Bristol last year because of forearm tightness. The results weren’t promising (5.49 ERA, 16 walks) but it’s possible the 20-year-old righty might be suffering from a more severe injury. He showed promise in 2014, registering a 1.98 ERA in 27.1 innings, but the fact that he saw so little action last summer gives cause for concern. Keller offers swing-and-miss stuff, but he needs to stay on the diamond throughout 2016 to maintain his prospect status.
A second-round pick in the 2014 draft, Keller got his first taste of professional action in the Gulf Coast League. The 18-year-old right-hander registered a 1.98 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 27.1 innings with a 29:13 K:BB ratio. He reaches the mid-90s with his fastball, but struggles with control issues. Keller, who received a $1 million signing bonus, is expected to pitch in rookie ball for Morgantown in 2015.
More Fantasy News
Promoted to Triple-A
PPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
June 27, 2018
Keller was promoted Wednesday from Double-A Altoona to Triple-A Indianapolis, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
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Works season-high eight frames Monday
PPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
June 26, 2018
Keller tossed eight scoreless innings Monday for Double-A Altoona in its 4-0 win over Harrisburg. He worked around one hit and two walks and struck out six.
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Pitches well in season debut
PPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
April 9, 2018
Keller threw six shutout innings in his season debut for Double-A Altoona on Sunday. He struck out eight batters while allowing two hits and two walks.
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Pitches well Sunday
PPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
March 18, 2018
Keller made his Grapefruit League debut Sunday, throwing two scoreless innings against Boston. He allowed two hits and no walks while striking out three batters, Lance Lysowski of DK Pittsburgh Sports reports.
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Leads Curve to championship
PPittsburgh Pirates  AAA
September 15, 2017
Keller allowed two runs in 7.1 innings Thursday, leading the Altoona Curve to a three-game sweep in the Eastern League championship round.
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