AFL Recap: Mitch Keller Throws Four Shutout Innings

The Glendale Desert Dogs need to go on a run over the final six games of the AFL season to get a playoff spot. They tried to start the run on Friday with Mitch Keller on the mound, making his first start since the Fall-Stars game over the weekend. Mitchell Tolman was the only Pittsburgh Pirate hitter in the lineup against Scottsdale, as Glendale won 3-1 and Keller had a terrific outing.

Keller’s last start was his five-inning performance last Monday in which he faced the minimum. That got his named as the AFL Pitcher of the Week. He did not start off well on this day, as he needed 22 pitches to get through the first inning. He started with an eight-pitch walk, followed by ground out in front of the plate, a strikeout and a grounder to third base. Kyle Glaser from Baseball America had him sitting 93-95, hitting 97 MPH.

The second inning started off with a grounder to first base. That was followed by a line drive single, then three pitches later, Keller got out of the inning on a double play grounder to shortstop. Keller needed just nine pitches this frame, with six going for strikes.

In the third, Keller got a fly out to left field on his first pitch. He then had a seven-pitch at-bat, which ended on a fly ball to center field. That was followed by a strikeout swinging on three pitches. Even with the long at-bat, it took Keller just 11 pitches to get through the inning.

Keller started the fourth inning with a ground out to shortstop. Two pitches later, he got a grounder to first base for the second out. He couldn’t get through the inning clean, allowing a line drive single up the middle. The next batter lined a ball to center field as well, but it was caught for the final out. Keller was at 55 pitches, with 41 going for strikes. That pitch count ended his day. He threw four shutout innings, allowing two singles and a walk, while striking out two batters. He now has a 1.37 ERA this fall through 19.2 innings, with a .152 BAA.

Mitchell Tolman came into the game with a .152 average and a .525 OPS through 13 games. He had a chance to drive in a run in the bottom of the second with one out and a man on third base. Tolman grounded out sharply to second base, which was hit too hard to bring home the run and resulted in an out at first base. He singled with one out in the fourth inning, then walked in the sixth. He flew out to left field to end the eighth inning, leaving him 1-for-3 with a walk.




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A conundrum – a kid who may very well continue on the same pace and zip through AA and AAA. However, if he comes up in Jun 2018, he will be on the pace to be a Free Agent at age 28, probably the most prime age for a pitcher.

A lot will depend upon how well the Pirates do in 2018. Can they overcome their own shortcomings?


Wishing a peaceful and enjoyable Veteran’s Day to all of my fellow veterans. All gave some, some gave all.


41 strikes on 55 pitches is the best part to me.

Blaine Huff

Fearless prediction:

Unless the Pirates do something ridiculously stupid…like trading him…

Keller will have a more positive impact on the ‘18 Pirates was than Glasnow.


In 2018? He does not turn 22 until April. Hard to deny his ability, but he only had 34 IP in AA last year. I think the Pirates will try to give him at least 15 starts at AA in 2018 before deciding whether to advance him to AAA.

The youngest “successful” SP for the Pirates in recent times, Gerrit Cole, came up in Jun 2013 at the age of 22 years, 9 months. He stayed in AAA until he could not qualify for a year of MLB Service or Super 2.

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