The Pirates sent their big three prep pitchers from the 2014 draft to Bristol this year, although only 11th round pick Gage Hinsz has seen significant time. Second round picks Mitch Keller and Trey Supak have both been out with arm issues, with Keller having yet to make his season debut. The good news is that both are getting close to a return.
Keller has been out since his final start in extended Spring Training with a forearm strain. He said that he took about ten days off after experiencing tightness, and has since been working on strengthening the muscle. He’s been throwing recently, and just completed a two inning sim game today.
“I don’t feel anything anymore,” Keller told me tonight after Bristol’s game. “So I think it just needed some rest.”
Keller started his five-day routine today, and he said that the current plan is for him to make his season debut on Sunday, throwing three innings. However, Bristol manager Edgar Varela didn’t say that there was a set day for him to pitch, so it’s possible that the date is still up in the air, depending on how he responds to today’s work.
We rated Keller as the 13th best prospect in the system, and for good reason. He’s got a fastball that has effortlessly been sitting mid-90s this year, with much better command of the pitch than he had when I saw him in the GCL last year. He also has a good curveball, and has been working on developing a changeup to give him that important third pitch. The fastball and curveball combo make Keller a special pitching prospect at his age.
Meanwhile, Trey Supak has been out since his start on July 11th at Kingsport. He experienced some tightness in his shoulder, which is an issue he had early in extended Spring Training. He said that he wasn’t sure if this was related to the previous issue. The Pirates shut him down for five days, then resumed his throwing program. He threw his first bullpen today since being shut down, and could be returning in the next two weeks.
“I think we’re on the fast track back,” Supak said. “Bullpen today, another bullpen, sim game, and then hopefully a game after that.”
Supak is a tall right-hander who can hit mid-90s, but doesn’t sit there like Keller does. He sits in the low 90s, and has some consistency issues with his fastball, although he’s shown much better control this year with a 17:3 K/BB ratio in 16.1 innings. The overall results haven’t been good, with a 4.96 ERA, but Supak has a lot of upside due to his size and stuff. He was rated our 21st best prospect in the mid-season update.