The Pirates Prospects 2017 Prospect Guide is now available for pre-sales. The book will be released the week before Spring Training, and we are currently in the process of making the final changes with editing and formatting.
The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2017 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. Subscribers to the site get discounted books, with Top Prospect subscribers getting $10 off, and Annual subscribers getting $5 off. The eBook will be released when the book is released, and will also come with discounts. Details on the promotions can be found on the products page, and you can subscribe to the site or upgrade your current plan on the subscriptions page.
While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks as a countdown to the start of Spring Training, and to give a preview of the release of the book. We will be wrapping up on Monday, February 13th. The reports will only be available to site subscribers, including those with a monthly plan. You can subscribe here, and if you like these reports, be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site to get much more analysis on every player in the system.
To recap the countdown so far:
20. Alen Hanson, 2B
17. Elias Diaz, C
16. Max Kranick, RHP
13. Clay Holmes, RHP
10. Gage Hinsz, RHP
We continue the countdown with the number 2 prospect, Mitch Keller.
2. MITCH KELLER, RHP
Keller is one of the Pirates’ biggest breakouts in recent years. He came into pro ball with a fastball that could hit 94-95 MPH and the makings of a good curveball, but poor command. He took some huge steps in 2016 with his velocity, secondary stuff, and command.
The biggest change for Keller was a small mechanical adjustment that led to his control doing a 180. He previously let his glove arm dip below his waist, but focused on keeping the arm up and strong. This led to a cleaner delivery, and the ability to command his fastball all over the zone, along with better command of the secondary stuff.
Keller also saw an increase in his velocity, getting to the point where he was sitting 94-97 MPH and touching 99. That, plus the new command, made him dominant. He spent most of his year in West Virginia using the fastball almost exclusively the first four innings, and had plenty of success with that approach. He eventually had to throw the secondary stuff, not because he needed it to get outs, but because he needed to work on the pitches. This approach carried over to Bradenton at the end of the year, with Keller looking advanced for the lower levels.
The curveball has sharp tilt and is a plus offering when it is consistent. He didn’t always have that consistency in 2016, but that could have been due to the fastball-heavy approach. He has a feel for a changeup, and saw improvements with a new grip, but that pitch still lags behind the other two. He should see improvements with both pitches as he moves up and gets forced to use his off-speed stuff earlier. This happened a bit more in Bradenton, and will really increase in Double-A.
Keller has top of the rotation stuff, and is a relatively safe pitching prospect for the lower levels. He would have otherwise been eligible for the 2017 draft, and would have been a contender for the top of the first round. He’s more advanced for A-ball than Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow were at the same age. He should move quickly through the system, possibly making his debut in 2018.