Roommates Mitch Keller and Cole Tucker Are Together Again in Altoona

ALTOONA, Pa. – When Mitch Keller found out at noon on Wednesday that he was being promoted to Double-A Altoona, they told him he had six hours before his plane leaves for Pennsylvania, where he would finish his 2017 season.

Such is the life of a minor league baseball player, as they can be somewhere one minute then relocate to another city the next. It can happen at the drop of a dime, but for prospects like Mitch Keller and Cole Tucker, it’s all a part of the process of making their way to the big leagues.

Tucker, who was roommates with Keller in Bradenton, is roommates with him again in Altoona. He recalled his own promotion, which came a few weeks before Keller went up.

“We were laying on the couch, and I got a call from our manager,” Tucker said, referencing to his old/new roommate Keller. “I looked at my phone and showed Mitch. It was cool just to get that experience in a call. He was like, ‘Tuck, I just got my heart broken.’ I responded, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘I just found out you are going to Double-A.'”

The call for Tucker came after a day game, right before the two guys were about to go out and grab food. He immediately started packing at his place, went to the field to clean out his locker, and got ready to leave for Altoona.

“It’s a scramble,” Tucker said. “You have to fly out right away and pick up your life and move to somewhere else, but it is really exciting.”

Now, for Keller and Tucker, rated as the Pirates number one and number four prospects, respectively, it’s time to focus on this last month of the season in Double-A.

Both players dealt with injuries while with the Marauders, which is something that they say they’ve learned from. Otherwise, building upon the experience of being promoted mid-season and winning a championship last year with Bradenton is something they want to bring to Altoona.

“I was hoping it would happen like this,” Keller said. “I’ve been hearing that I would come up and all that good stuff. It’s the same thing as last year, just a little earlier this time. Last year, it was only one start in the regular season before the playoffs. I get a full month here, so that is cool.”

Keller’s plan is to “continue to do the same thing”, including pounding the strike zone and getting more and more comfortable with all of his pitches. Tucker said that he learned how to be “a better defender, a better hitter, a better base runner, and a better leader” in High-A, and those are all things that he hopes can translate to Double-A.

“We’re just moving through the system and taking it up another level,” Tucker said. “Just trying to progress from what we’ve done so far.”

Tucker has displayed some signs of struggle so far with the Curve, and his manager, Michael Ryan, said that he may have been giving too much credit to the competition in Double-A rather than just going out there and playing the game. Going into last night’s action, he has a .204 average through 13 games, but his bat has been steady and improving in his last handful of games. He really struggled in his first series at Bowie, going 1-for-13, but he went 10-for-37 during his next three series, spraying the ball to all corners of the field.

“I definitely got here, and whether I consciously did it or not, I was trying to do too much,” Tucker said. “I just feel like I’m settled in now and squaring up some balls. I’m really seeing pitches in my zone and driving them. That’s all I can do. You can’t really control the hits or batting average. Just try to do that and not do too much.”

Perhaps the biggest sign of over thinking the game was with his glove, where he already has five errors for the Curve while only having seven errors in 66 games for Bradenton. I wouldn’t expect the problem to continue as he gets more used to the level.

As for Keller, he gets his first start tonight against a potent Trenton Thunder lineup. He brings his 3.14 ERA to a much improved Curve starting rotation, hoping to contribute to another championship run. Keller’s new team is currently in a playoff position, only 1/2 game back of Bowie from the division lead.

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joe s

I guess it is great to get promoted but then you have to pack up your things and run to your next stop but these guys don’t have a place to live there and don’t know any thing about the area so I guess it is a big change in lifestyle for them. Does the team get them an apartment or have somewhere where they can live? These guys get very little money to play at this point and I doubt they could afford to pay $1,000 a month for an apartment. However in Altoona I doubt the rents would be that expensive.

leefoo

My two favorite prospects! Nice ‘cool’ write up, Sean.

(Please write one on my #3 guy, Ke’Bryan, too). 🙂

Biagio

I thought Conner Joe was your favorite?

piraterican21

Glasnow and Bell were roommates, now Tucker and Keller, seems to be a organizational believe to house top prospects together as they move up.

John Dreker

Actually, the roommate thing is usually based on players who can afford to room together. Everyone you mentioned was a big bonus player, and they usually get something better for themselves OR just fewer players in one place. A prospect who came out of nowhere, probably isn’t going to be with a first round pick, even if they are equal prospects.

piraterican21

That makes sense when earlier today you mentioned host families and other lodging for players above the GCL.

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