Prospect Watch: Mitch Keller Removed Due to Back Tightness

P2 Top 30

A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. If a player is in the majors for an extended time (Trevor Williams, Alen Hanson, Jose Osuna), or loses his prospect eligibility, he will be removed from this list. Everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season, he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get more active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the 2017 Prospect Guide, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Austin Meadows, CF, Indianapolis -[insert_php]
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2. Mitch Keller, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php]

3. Kevin Newman, SS, Altoona – [insert_php]

4. Cole Tucker, SS, Bradenton – [insert_php]

5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php]

6. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton –  [insert_php]

7. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php]

8. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton  – [insert_php]

9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

10. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

11. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php]

13. Max Kranick, RHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php]

14. Elias Diaz, C, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

15. Edgar Santana, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

16. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php]

17. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

18. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php]

19. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php]

20. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php]

21. Stephen Alemais, SS, West Virginia –  [insert_php]

22. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – [insert_php]

23. Travis MacGregor, RHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php]

24. Barrett Barnes, LF, Indianapolis -[insert_php]

25. Max Moroff, 2B, Indianapolis -[insert_php]

26. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

27. J.T. Brubaker, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php]

28. Chris Bostick, INF/OF, Indianapolis –  [insert_php]

29. Connor Joe, 3B, Altoona – [insert_php]

30. Pat Light, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

P2 Top Performers



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Indianapolis won the first game of a doubleheader against Columbus by a 5-1 score. Steven Brault started and went six innings, allowing one run on two hits and three walks, while striking out six batters. Despite the three walks, he wasn’t wild in this game, throwing 64 of his 100 pitches for strikes. He had an 8:3 GO/AO ratio and at one point, Brault retired ten straight batters. This is his third straight start in which he allowed one run. He now has a 2.95 ERA in 42.2 innings, with 41 strikeouts.

Indianapolis broke this game open in the third inning when Chris Bostick hit his third homer. Then after Austin Meadows hit a ground rule double to straightaway center field, Max Moroff hit his tenth home run of the season. Bostick went 2-for-4, making him 11-for-19 since being sent down by the Pirates last week. The home run for Moroff was his tenth, two more than his previous career high. Eric Wood hit his ninth double, stole a base, drew a walk and scored two runs. Jacob Stallings had two hits, including an RBI double.

Game Two recap: Indianapolis swept the doubleheader on Tuesday, getting a surprisingly strong outing from Cody Dickson as a spot starter in their 9-0 win. He came into the game with a 1.84 WHIP and had not gone longer than three innings in any outing this season. Dickson threw five shutout innings and got a lot of run support from the entire lineup. Indianapolis reached base 20 times in the seven inning contest, and they did all of their damage in the 4th and 5th, scoring all nine runs over those two frames.

Chris Bostick continued his great hitting since being sent down, although he was already putting up big numbers when he was called up by the Pirates. He went 2-for-3 with a run scored, a stolen base and a HBP, raising his average to .370 on the season. Austin Meadows went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. His average has gone up 39 points in his last ten games. Max Moroff had a single, two in two runs and walked twice. He is 5-for-16 with two homers and seven walks since being sent down by the Pirates. Elias Diaz was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Eric Wood had two walks and scored two runs.

Dovydas Neverauskas and Angel Sanchez closed out the win with one scoreless inning each.


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Altoona lost 10-2 to Binghamton on Tuesday night, as a trio of Curve pitchers all had their issues. Starter Tanner Anderson posted a 12:0 GO/AO ratio and threw 53 of his 81 pitches for strikes. Unfortunately for him, those numbers were a lot better than the rest of his line. He allowed six runs on seven hits and a walk in five innings of work. Anderson had a 1.98 ERA through his first five starts, but in his last two games combined, he has allowed ten earned runs over 8.2 innings. His ERA has now gone up to 4.00 on the season.

After Anderson left, JT Brubaker made his first appearance since coming off the disabled list. He was out two weeks due to a blister on the index finger of his throwing hand. He was not sharp in this outing, allowing two runs on five hits in two innings. Surprisingly, he needed just 26 pitches while facing 11 batters. He was followed by Luis Heredia, who had issues throwing strikes. Heredia allowed two runs in his only inning, giving up one hit and three walks. He threw 36 pitches, with 18 going for strikes. In five appearances, he as allowed four runs over seven innings.

Altoona got offense from the players you expect to provide it. Kevin Kramer extended his season-long on base streak to 31 games with two hits and a walk. He scored a run, stole his fourth base and collected his third triple. Edwin Espinal drove in a run with his 11th double. Jordan Luplow had a single and a walk. Kevin Newman went 0-for-4 and he’s hitting .189 (7-for-37) in his last ten games.


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Bradenton lost on Tuesday night 6-3 to Daytona, but their biggest loss came after the first inning. Mitch Keller was removed from tonight’s game after a 27-pitch first inning due to back tightness. He allowed two hits, including a two-run homer, while walking one batter and striking out the final batter of the inning. He got some help on a caught stealing by Christian Kelley, which immediately followed a fielding error from Cole Tucker to start the game. Keller left his last start early as well after getting stung by a bee on his right forearm.

The rest of the game was secondary with the top pitching prospect leaving early for a second straight game. Cole Tucker continued his hot hitting, extending his on base streak to 23 games with a two-run double in the fifth inning. He singled later and stole his 25th base. Ke’Bryan Hayes and Mitchell Tolman each had two hits, and Will Craig reached once on a walk. Bradenton struck out 14 times in the game, including three times by Casey Hughston, who has now struck out nine games in a row and 43 times on the season.

Jake Brentz had his worst outing of the season. The flamethrowing lefty allowed three runs over 1.2 innings. He came into the game with two runs allowed on the season in ten appearances.


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West Virginia won 6-2 on Tuesday morning, as starter Oddy Nunez went past four innings for the first time, and reliever Mike Wallace provided a nice performance in his longest outing of the season.

Nunez has been on a strict pitch count this year, allowed to go 60 pitches or four innings, whichever came first. He threw four shutout innings to begin this game, then came out for the fifth inning for the first time in his eighth start of the season. If he stayed on his normal schedule, this would have been his third straight shutout performance.

Nunez started the fifth with a strikeout, then allowed a single and a double to put two runners on base. He struck out the next batter before leaving for Mike Wallace. The first batter Wallace faced brought home both runners with a single, completing the line for Nunez. He went 4.2 innings (70 pitches), allowing two runs on four hits and one walk. Nunez had three strikeouts and a 5:4 GO/AO ratio.

Wallace nearly finished the game, reaching 60 pitches for the first time this season. Despite allowing both inherited runners to score, he threw four shutout innings of his own. Dylan Prohoroff had to come out to record the final out.

On offense, Ty Moore, Clark Eagan and Alexis Bastardo each drove in two runs. Moore had three hits, including two doubles, giving him 11 on the season. Eagan, Bastardo, Brent Gibbs and Albert Baur each had two hits. Bastardo is 14-for-30 in nine games since taking over the starting center field job from Sandy Santos.

Adrian Valerio played his third game and was at shortstop for the second straight day after playing second base his first game. He scored a run in this game, but he’s 1-for-13 to start his time in West Virginia. Stephen Alemais played second base for the first time and went 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout at the top of the lineup. He is 2-for-26 in his last six games and has struck out at least once in nine straight games.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Huge jump from Kramer this season. Sounds like he’s too good for the level. Too bad he’s not a shortstop. Mercer just isn’t getting the job done.


At the Bradenton game in Daytona tonight. Keller did look uncomfortable in his first inning. hope it is not longstanding. Cole Tucker can really hit, but the error in the first was a slow roller going through his legs. He really needs to get his ass down to get down on the ball, he is tall and it is even more important to get body down on those ground balls.


BTW sat at the game right behind home plate. great seats and great ball park. Next to me were 2 scouts from the Marlins scouting BM pitching prospects hard, especially Keller before he left game.


I attended the Altoona at Binghamton game tonight…unfortunately, the highlight was the weather – just a beautiful night in Binghamton.

This was just a terrible performance by the Curve tonight. Although facing a very hittable Casey Delgado, the Curve didn’t do much offensively. They did hit several long balls – they were either hit to the deepest part of the park and were caught or they were run down in the outfield by Binghamton. Luplow, Espinal, Escobar, and Simpson all hit some long and loud outs. Kramer was the only bright spot offensively – with a single, walk, and triple.

Joe did absolutely nothing, other than getting hit by a pitch. He does look like an above average athletic player – which makes me wonder why he can’t find a position he can be competent at.

Newman had a quiet night, although he did at least hit a very hard line drive down the right field line that held up just long enough to be caught.

Defensively, the Curve looked good in the infield – Simpson, Kramer, and Newman all handled their chances cleanly, including a couple of difficult ones. Espinal, although a very large guy, played a very good first base – he even dove to the ground to knock down a ground ball and proceeded to throw the runner out at home while still on the ground.

Pitching was poor. Tanner Anderson was not very impressive. Velocity wise he was 89-91 most of the night – I think he hit 93 once. But worse than not having great velocity, his control was erratic at best. He seemed to be pitching from behind a lot and when he did get two strikes on a hitter, he couldn’t finish him off. Not surprisingly, he didn’t miss too many bats. He got hit pretty hard, especially during his last inning. His defense saved him from 2-3 more runs that he easily could have surrendered.

Brubaker followed – and he was even more hittable than Anderson. He doesn’t look like he will be anything more than a bullpen arm – and not a very impressive one at that. Heredia followed and his control was subpar – it was the first time I’ve seen Heredia pitch – and he was not very impressive. Hard to believe this guy was once a top prospect and we were dreaming of Cole, Taillon, and Heredia in the rotation….

What does it say about the system’s catching position when the best we can do is 31 year old Jackson Williams for our AA starting catcher?

All in all, not a very good night. I plan on attending tomorrow night too, in hopes of a much better performance.


I hope you don’t jump off the bridge before tomorrow’s game….That was honestly the most depressing recap I’ve ever read.

PS-I believe Jhang is hurt.

Tim Williams

Jhang is hurt, and returns on Friday.


Altoona lost 10-2 – what other positives do you suggest I make up and post? It was ugly….a far cry from last year’s Altoona team that had a lot of good hitters

Bill Harvey

Rainbows and unicorns.

John W

Chad kuhl wow… just brutal tonight- again


Oh no – they pulled Keller after the 1st inning…


That’s my hope, but they let him finish the 1st at 27 pitches. Smells like an injury.


In all seriousness, I’m hearing back tightness.


What’s the odds on another bee sting?

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